25 December 2017
The pope’s address comes as protests continue in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territories, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
At least 15 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the US move on December 6.
The status of Jerusalem has long remained a sensitive topic and one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Currently, there are no embassies in Jerusalem.
Home to holy religious sites, the city has particular significance for Muslims, Christians and Jews.
After occupying the city’s eastern part in the 1967 War, Israel annexed the territory. In 1980, it proclaimed Jerusalem as its “eternal, undivided capital”.
Palestinian leaders hope that East Jerusalem might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. Israel sees the entire city as its capital.
Diplomats and experts have long vouched for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On Saturday, Palestinian Christian leaders rejected the US decision, calling it “dangerous” and “insulting” in a statement.
At his Christmas Eve mass on Sunday, Francis defended refugees, strongly urging the world not to ignore the plight of people who are “driven from their land” because of leaders willing to shed “innocent blood”.
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics on Sunday led a solemn ceremony for about 10,000 people in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, while many others followed the service from the square outside.
Source: Al Jazeera News