On Monday, Axios, which was among the first to report on the Peace Prize's new structure, published a list of what to expect.Here are a few of the highlights: The Peace Prize will be awarded to individuals and groups who have achieved at least 10 years of peace with one another, and that have made significant and lasting improvements in the quality of life for all people in their communities, the...
5.25 pm: Pope Francis has urged Palestinians to “make peace” with Israel, saying it has “frightened and hurt” them.
The Pope delivered the message in his Apostolic Exhortation for Peace on Tuesday (local time) during his weekly general audience, the first of the year.
“The situation in the Gaza Strip, as we have been informed by a few media outlets, is not the only situation in which the Israeli army and settlers are attacking Palestinians and causing serious damage,” he said, referring to the two-state solution that has led to the creation of more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“The Israelis also kill innocent civilians, many of whom are children,” he added.
The pope did not specify what his message was to the Palestinians, but it was widely reported that the Pope was referring to Gaza.
The Pope’s office has not commented on the situation in Gaza, although on Tuesday he said the Holy See was “deeply concerned” by what he called the “crimes” of Israel.
On Monday, Pope Francis issued a call for the United Nations to take a more active role in resolving the crisis, and for Israel to “immediately stop its acts of aggression and violence against Palestinians”.
He also warned of “further escalation” against the Palestinians.
He said the Vatican was “very worried about the situation” in Gaza and that “Israel’s policies are very, very dangerous and it is very, really hurting the Palestinians”.
He also said he was “firmly convinced” that Israel “will never accept a Palestinian state, that they are an occupier, that there is no Palestinian state”.
“This is the worst situation in recent history and the most serious problem,” he wrote.
In the letter, the Pope called for the implementation of “the two-states solution, the recognition of the rights of the Palestinians and a Palestinian future in the occupied territories, as well as an end to all forms of aggression against the Palestinian people and the continuation of the international peace process”.
He did not say what his “message” would be on the Palestinian issue, but the Pope also said that “Palestinian resistance must continue” to “keep up the fight” against Israeli oppression and “reclaim their rights”.
“This resistance must not be limited to the Gaza strip,” the Pope wrote.
“It must continue to extend to all areas under Israeli occupation, as it has in the past and the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly said.”
The Pope also warned that “all acts of violence are unacceptable, and they cannot be justified, as they are aimed at the security and well-being of the Israeli people”.
Israel has occupied the West Jerusalem and Gaza Strip since 1967 and annexed the territory in a move never recognised internationally.
Ahead of his address, Hamas said the Pope had “disrespected the Palestinian cause” and called on Israel to stop “these crimes”.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which has dominated Palestinian politics for decades, condemned the Pope for his remarks.
“Pope Francis has called for a return to the 1967 borders, an apartheid regime, apartheid apartheid Israel and apartheid Jerusalem,” the group said in a statement.
“He has done this despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority, the only government with legitimacy, is incapable of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
The Vatican has also repeatedly accused Israel of violating international law, which is part of the Holy Land’s status as a Jewish state.
Israel says the West Wall of the Temple Mount is an ancient Jewish temple and a Jewish holy site and is recognised as such by the United States, France, the European Union, and the Vatican.
Pope Francis’s address is expected to focus on the plight of the Palestinian children and their families.