pope Israeli ambassador 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Pope Benedict XVI received a delegation from the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on Wednesday in a meeting described as lasting longer than expected.
JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler, who headed the delegation, used the pre-planned visit to discuss the Gaza situation and the fight against Hamas, telling Benedict that Jews and Christians should "join forces" and "fight together" against terrorists who sought "the destruction of peace."
Stenzler stressed that Israel merely wanted peace, to which the pope replied, "I too want peace and peace is very important to me."
The visit had been arranged in order to discuss Christian holy sites in Israel, many of which are maintained by the JNF. Benedict is expected to visit in May.
"My hope is to use your trip to Israel this year to help build bridges between the Jewish nation and the Christian nation through ecological and environmental issues, which are pure and good for all humanity without regard [to] religion and faith," Stenzler told him.
He presented the pope with one of JNF's blue collection boxes, as well as an Old Testament in both Hebrew and English. The pope said he was pleased that the bible was also in Hebrew.
Afterwards, Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechai Levy, told the delegation that the pope had given the visit a surprising amount of his time.