Pope Francis met with President Reuven Rivlin in Rome during an official visit to the Vatican, for talks in which the pontiff urged the renewal of direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
Rivlin met with the pope for about 30 minutes in Francis’ study Thursday.
In the exchange of gifts Rivlin gave the Pope a replica of a tablet with the inscription “House of David,” the earliest known mention of King David that has been found outside of the Old Testament.
The Vatican said the meeting, and subsequent talks with the Vatican secretary of state, focused on Middle East peace “and the need and urgency to promote a climate of trust between Israelis and Palestinians, and to restart direct negotiations to reach an agreement that is respectful of the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples.”
Reporters said Francis presented Rivlin with a new bronze medallion featuring a rock split in two and held together by an olive branch emerging from the fissure. The inscription reads “Look for what unites, overcome that which divides.”
Earlier this week during a meeting with Women Wage Peace, an organization formed after 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and composed of Jewish and Arab women calling for coexistence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “prepared to go to Ramallah or anywhere else right now to meet and hold direct negotiations without preconditions.”