Pope cautions against ‘unfair’ Middle East peace plans

U.S. & World

Pope Francis kisses a a baby as he greets faithful in St. Nicholas Basilica, in Bari, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. The Pope is in Bari to preside the closing of the “Mediterranean sea a border of peace” conference. Twenty bishops from the countries overlooking the Mediterranean are attend to talk about peace and dialogue. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has cautioned against “unfair” solutions aimed at ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a speech Sunday during a visit to the Italian southern port city of Bari to reflect on peace in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Francis lamented the many areas of war and conflict, including in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Francis spoke of “the still unresolved conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with the danger of not fair solutions, and, thus, presaging new crises.”

The pope didn’t cite any specific proposals.

A new U.S. peace plan would let Israel annex all of its settlements along with the strategic Jordan Valley. It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but only if they meet stringent conditions.

In the same speech, Francis took a swipe at populist politics. “It scares me when I hear some speeches by some leaders of the new forms of popularism,” he said. He also lamented that waves of refugees fleeing conflicts, climate change consequences and other adversity are “depicted as an invasion.”

Among the prelates gathered for his speech in Bari’s Pontifical Basilica of St. Nicholas were churchmen from the Balkans, Jerusalem and Algeria.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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