On his arrival in Israel, the Holy Father pleaded with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties in the Holy Land.

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Papal address upon arrival in Israel

Ben Gurion airport
Tel Aviv, Israel
11th May 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has arrived in Israel on the second leg of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was greeted at an airport near Tel Aviv by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In his arrival speech, the Pope immediately addressed the issue of Palestinian statehood.

“I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both people may live in peace in a homeland of their own within secure and internationally recognised borders.”

And the Pope said Israel and the Vatican had many shared values, including the desire to put religion in its rightful place in society.

The just ordering of social relationships presupposes and requires a respect for the freedom and dignity of every human being, whom Christians, Muslims and Jews alike believe to be created by a loving God and destined for eternal life. When the religious dimension of the human person is denied or marginalised, the very foundation for a proper understanding of inalienable human rights is placed in jeopardy.

And Pope Benedict called for free access to Jerusalem for people from all the religions with holy sites in the city

“One thing that the three great monotheistic religions have in common is a special veneration for that holy city. It is my earnest hope that all pilgrims to the holy places will be able to access them freely and without restraint.”

In his discourse, Pope Benedict also spoke of how, tragically, the Jewish people have experienced the terrible consequences of ideologies that deny the fundamental dignity of every human person. He said that he would pray for the six million victims of the Holocaust and promised to fight anti-Semitism around the world.

I will have the opportunity to honour the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah and to pray that humanity will never again witness a crime of such magnitude. Sadly anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world. This is totally unacceptable.”

Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism the Pope continued wherever it is found.

Meanwhile, Benedict XVIth announced with joy, he is taking his place in a long line of Christian pilgrims to these shores.

“I come, like so many others before me, to pray at the holy places, to pray especially for peace — peace here in the Holy Land, and peace throughout the world