Vatican City hosts, today, a joint peace prayer with Pope Francis, Israeli President Shimon Peres and president Mahmoud Abbas, in what is held to be an unprecedented symbolic gesture offered with the intention of creating a bridge of peaceful dialogue across religious borders. According to AFP via Ma’an, Abbas said that he hoped the event in the Vatican Gardens, which will include Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers and the planting of an olive tree by all three leaders, would ‘help Israel decide.’

‘With this prayer we are sending a message to all believers of the three major religions and the others: the dream of peace must not die,’ Abbas said.

Peres, who is to be stepping down as president next month, was quoted on Sunday as saying: ‘The spiritual call (for peace) is very important and affects reality.’

‘I hope the event will contribute to promoting peace between the two sides and throughout the world,’ he added, noting that the conflict is ‘both political and religious’ and ‘religious leaders resonate’… ‘an unusual call for peace.’

The Vatican regards the happenings as ‘a pause from politics.’

Pope Francis, on his last day of a 3-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, called for allowing all believers free access to holy sites in Jerusalem.

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