In a speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented to Pope Francis the need to support the work of Palestinians in ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent, free Palestinian state:‘We count on Your Holiness to contribute towards enabling our people to attain their freedom and full independence, by bringing the Israeli occupation to a complete end and establishing an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.’

According to Ma’an, Abbas also stressed the precarious situation facing Palestinians as a result of the construction of the Israeli separation wall as well as policies of mass incarceration that have left thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons:

‘Your Holiness, you saw the monstrous wall being constructed by Israel, the occupying power on our land, at a time when we desperately needed to build bridges of communication and dialogue rather than anything that would sow the seeds of hatred, malice, and hostility. We, the people, are looking to live in freedom and dignity and to have sovereignty over our national soil, away from the occupation.

We have fully updated His Holiness on the outcome of the peace process and the pitfalls and obstacles which befell it, primarily the settlement enterprise, and daily attacks on places of worship including churches and mosques, as well as the continued detention of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who yearn for freedom. A number of these prisoners have been on hunger strike for more than 30 days in protest against ill-treatment and detention without trial or verdict, under the pretext of ‘administrative detention.’

Full translated speech at Ma’an News Agency.