Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop at the Israelibuilt barrier that separates the town of Bethlehem from Jerusalem on Sunday, praying against the wall that has come to symbolize Arab-Israeli division.See, that's the problem. The Vatican is not protesting these propaganda tactics the PLO is doing, and that only raises further questions whether the Pope really was deliberate in his choice of where to take a moment to pray.
The unexpected gesture came as the Pope was en route to Manger Square, where Jesus is thought to have been born about 2,000 years ago. Ordering his white Popemobile to stop, he clambered out and pressed his forehead against the wall, which Israel began building a decade ago to keep suicide bombers from attacking Jerusalem. Palestinians see it as a symbol of their oppression, and the section that the Pope chose to stop at bore graffiti saying "Free Palestine."
While the gesture delighted Palestinians, Israeli officials tried to play down the significance of the Pope's decision to stop at the barrier on the hills between Jerusalem and the West Bank. "There's nothing political here," said a foreign ministry spokesman, who accused the Palestinians of turning the papal visit into "a propaganda stunt.
"But that's what they do and the Vatican plays along with it."
In another surprise initiative, the Pontiff, on a threeday tour of the Middle East, sought to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process, which broke down last month. He invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, to a meeting at the Vatican. [...]Well that was really dumb, and he shouldn't have gone there to begin with if he wound up symbolizing support for the PLO's visions. I'm also appalled at his chumminess with Peres, and his invitation to Abbas. That does not inspire trust in the current Pope, I'm afraid.
The failure of peace efforts was "increasingly unacceptable," he said earlier, standing alongside Abbas at a welcoming ceremony. [...]
His reference to "the State of Palestine" rather than "Palestinian Territories," and his decision to fly direct from Jordan to Bethlehem, bypassing Israeli territory, were interpreted by many as tacit support for the creation of a Palestinian state.