Pope Francis will host Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the Vatican on Saturday, the Holy See confirmed on Tuesday by announcing arrangements for media coverage of the visit.
This will be the third time the Pope will be meeting the President following an encounter during the pontiff’s 2014 trip to the Holy Land and the Palestinian leader’s 2015 visit to the Vatican to attend a canonization ceremony for two Palestinian nuns
Saturday’s meeting will come against a background of deep concern among Palestinians over US President-elect Donald Trump’s declared intention of moving the US embassy on Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Palestinians fear the move would consolidate Israeli control over the ancient city and make it harder for them to have Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian
The meeting on Saturday will take place on the eve of an international conference in Paris at which some 70 countries are due to discuss the situation in the Middle East and reiterate support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.