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.
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.
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