President Shimon Peres issued a prayer for a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace at the Vatican on Sunday, alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis.
“These two nations — the Israelis and the Palestinians — suffer from the absence of peace; the tears of mothers for their sons is still heartbreaking,” Peres said. “We must put an end to the pain, to the violence, the conflict. We all need peace. Peace between equals.”
“Peace does not come easy. We must work with all our might until it is achieved, and achieved quickly. Even if it calls for sacrifice and compromise. The Palestinians are our neighbors. We pray that soon we will live in mutual respect and good neighborliness,” he said.
“And even if peace seems distant, we must pursue it and bring it closer. And if we pursue peace with determination, with faith, we will reach it. And it will endure through all of us, as is written by Isaiah: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
The Israeli president emphasized that peace was attainable. “It is in our hands — together, now, Israelis and Palestinians — to realize the great vision and [make it a] reality. We can bring peace to our children and grandchildren. This is our obligation, the sacred obligation of parents.”
Peres also praised Francis for his recent visit to Jerusalem, during which, he said, “You touched the hearts of people – regardless of their religion or nationality. You came as a builder of bridges of brotherhood and peace.”
Mahmoud Abbas offered his prayer for peace shortly after Peres, saying emphatically that “reconciliation and peace, O Lord, are our goal.”
“Here we are, O God, inclined to peace. Make firm our steps and crown our efforts and endeavors with success,” he said.
Abbas praised the pope’s Middle East visit as “a sincere expression of your belief in peace and a truthful attempt to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
The PA leader also appealed to God to “save our blessed city Jerusalem,” and prayed for “freedom in our sovereign and independent state,” on behalf of “the people of Palestine — Moslems, Christians, and Samaritans — who are craving for a just peace, dignified living, and liberty.”
“O Lord of Heaven and Earth, accept my prayer for the realization of truth, peace and justice in my country Palestine, the region, and the globe as a whole,” he said.
Abbas and Peres were in the Vatican attending an unprecedented interfaith summit, having accepted the invitation of Pope Francis during his visit to Bethlehem and Jerusalem last month.