Pope calls for peace talks between Israel and Palestinians

By Reuters

Haaretz

Tamuz 6, 5766

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called for peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians and an end to spiraling violence in Iraq.

Speaking to thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Benedict for the second time this week warned a spiral of "atrocious carnage" in the Holy Land and Iraq risked being aggravated if all sides failed to negotiate.

"In the face, on one side, of blind violence and atrocious carnage, and on the other, of the threat of aggravating the crisis in the last dramatic few days, there is a need for justice and a serious and credible peace plan: that unfortunately there is no sign of," Benedict said.

Israel Air Force helicopters stepped up a military offensive on the Gaza Strip on Sunday after the kidnapping of an IDF soldier in a cross-border raid a week ago.

In Iraq, a car bomb on Saturday killed more than 60 people, while Osama bin Laden appeared to warn the country's majority Shi'ites they were not safe from attack by Sunni militants.

"All must remember that every man, from whatever population, is a brother," Benedict said.

Escalating violence in the Middle East and the rise of terrorism has seen the Vatican seeking allies, in particular the Russian Orthodox Church, which has been split from the Catholic Church after a nearly 1,000-year-old schism.

Benedict, on Sunday, welcomed the meeting of Russian Orthodox and Catholic delegations in Moscow this month.

"This important meeting reveals the shared wish to promote the dialogue among civilizations and the search for a more just and peaceful world order," Benedict said.