Israel’s prime minister has cautioned Palestinians against taking unilateral action in their efforts to establish an independent state, saying only direct talks could bring peace to the region.
Benjamin Netanyahu said he was working with the United States on ways to revive the talks, which have stalled just weeks after their launch because of disagreements over Israeli settlement construction.
The Palestinians have said they are considering side-stepping Israel by seeking UN Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem – territories the Jewish state captured in the 1967 war.
Meanwhile Pope Benedict XVI has said peace in the Middle East is possible, urgently needed and the best way to stop the emigration of people from the region.
He also said religious freedom in the Middle East should be expanded – an issue that could be the subject of dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican today to mark the end of a two-week meeting of Mideast bishops, called to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East.