Israeli, Palestinian presidents join Pope at Vatican

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

prayer summit
Israeli President Shimon Peres (left) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right), as Pope Francis watches on.

On Sunday, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, hosted a prayer summit with the presidents of Palestine and Israel.

This historic meeting took place at the Vatican, the Catholic headquarters and independent state located within Italy. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas exchanged gestures of peace by kissing each other on the cheek and planting an olive tree.

Since USA-sponsored peace talks collapsed, unsuccessfully trying to resolve the two nations’ decades of territory conflict, Pope Francis had invited the two presidents to join him after visiting their countries during a Middle East tour.

During the ceremony, the religion of Islam was included, with Muslim prayers and readings from the Koran (their holy book) held for the first time in history at the Vatican. In fact, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim prayers were all offered. While the Pope didn’t try to create a political solution or take sides, he did say, “Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare.”

Images courtesy of the Vatican.