In an unprecedented prayer at the Vatican Sunday evening, Pope Francis called on the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to 'break the spiral of hatred and violence' and begin 'a new journey' towards peace in the Middle East, The Telegraph reports.
Shimon Peres, the Israeli president and Mahmoud Abbas, his Palestinian counterpart, embraced warmly and shared a joke before the Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers in the Vatican gardens, where the leaders planted an olive tree.
'More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the Evil One, employing a variety of means, has succeeded in blocking it,' the Pope said at the evening ceremony in the Vatican Gardens, The Catholic Herald adds.
'That is why we are here, because we know and we believe that we need the help of God.'
The Pope said too many children had been killed by war and said the two leaders 'must respond' to their people's 'yearning for the dawn of peace' in the Middle East. He called on them to find 'the strength to persevere undaunted in dialogue,' following the breakdown of talks in April.
'It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide,' the Pope said in a short address to the gathering.
Pope Francis tells presidents only God can bring peace to Holy Land (The Catholic Herald)