Pope Francis remembers victims of the Holocaust

Pope Francis has honoured Jews killed in the Holocaust as he capped his three-day Middle East trip with poignant stops at some of the holiest and most haunting sites for Jews.

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Israeli and Palestinian leaders 'accept' Pope's offer

The Israeli and Palestinian presidents said they have accepted Pope Francis' invitation to meet with him at the Vatican, the Associated Press reports:

Earlier Pope Francis offered his "home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer."

Pope invites Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Vatican

Pope Francis has invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the Vatican to "pray for peace".

"In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace," the Pope said at an open-air Mass in Bethlehem.

People gather for an open-air Mass led by Pope Francis in Bethlehem's Manger Square. Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

"I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer," Pope Francis said, in what Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi described as an unprecedented papal initiative.

Thousands attend Pope Francis' Mass in Bethlehem

Thousands of worshippers have attended an open-air Mass in Bethlehem's Manger Square as Pope Francis made a plea for peace in the region.

Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he arrives to Manger Square in Bethlehem. Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Pope Francis conducts the Mass in Bethlehem. Credit: RTV
Thousands of worshippers gather in Bethlehem's Manger Square to watch Pope Francis' Mass. Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Medichini/Pool

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Pope urges end to 'unacceptable' Middle East conflict

Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas review the honour guard on his arrival to Bethlehem. Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Pope Francis has called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "increasingly unacceptable" and urged both sides to take courageous and creative decisions to forge peace.

Pope Francis took a helicopter from Jordan to the West Bank. Credit: REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Pope Francis spoke alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after landing in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state.

Pope Francis called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 'increasingly unacceptable'. Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The Pontiff said both sides need to make sacrifices to create two states, with internationally recognised borders, for the good of their own people.

Pope Francis lands in politically sensitive West Bank

Pope Francis has arrived in the West Bank to start the most politically sensitive part of his visit to the Middle East.

Church officials say his three-day tour of the region, which began in Jordan on Saturday, is purely focused on religious issues.

Pope Francis waves upon his arrival at the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Pope flew to Bethlehem by helicopter, becoming the first Pontiff to travel directly to the West Bank rather than enter via Israel - a decision hailed by Palestinian officials as a recognition of their push for full statehood.

He is due to celebrate an open-air Mass in Bethlehem's Manger Square, close to where Christians believe Jesus was born.

Pope Francis to land in politically sensitive West Bank

Pope Francis flies to the West Bank today to start the most delicate part of his stay in the Middle East, with visits to the Palestinian Territories and Israel, where his every word will be scrutinised.

Pope Francis leaves after a mass at Amman International Stadium Credit: Reuters

Church officials say his three-day tour of the region, which started on Saturday in Jordan, is purely focussed on religious issues. However, the dividing lines of the generations-old Middle East conflict will be impossible to ignore.

Francis will fly straight by helicopter to Bethlehem, becoming the first pontiff to travel directly to the West Bank rather than enter via Israel - a decision hailed by Palestinian officials as a recognition of their push for full statehood.

Pope Francis calls for 'urgent end' to Syrian war

Pope Francis arriving in Jordan's capital Amman during his tour of the Middle East. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has called for urgent steps to end Syria's three-year-old civil war during his trip to the Middle East.

Making the comment to Jordan's King Abdullah, Francis praised the Western-backed kingdom for its efforts to "to seek lasting peace for the entire region".

More than 160,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict and millions have fled to neighbouring countries, including Jordan.

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