Lauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams:
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On an upcoming trip to the Middle East, Pope Francis is expected to prioritize his visit with Palestinians, including a refugee camp, in a move interpreted by many as a ‘recognition’ of a future Palestinian state.
The papal “pilgrimage of prayer” is set to begin in Jordan next Saturday. From there, Francis is expected to take a helicopter directly to Bethlehem before heading to east Jerusalem, both recognized by the international community as part of Palestine.
According to Father Jamal Khader of the Latin patriarchate in Jerusalem, the decision to visit Palestine before Israel is “a kind of sign of recognizing Palestine.”
While in Bethlehem, the Pope will meet with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas, and then celebrate mass in front of the Church of the Nativity, before visiting a nearby refugee camp, AFP reports.
“He will have a lunch with Palestinians, with families suffering from the occupation… then he will visit Dheishe refugee camp to witness the suffering of Palestinian refugees,” Ziyyad Bandak, Abbas’s adviser for Christian affairs, told Voice of Palestine radio.