On the world list of geopolitical bloodshed, there is one ongoing conflict that seems so entrenched, so irrevocable that it's become the butt of too many jokes to count. Achieving peace between Israel and Palestine seems so unattainable that almost no one logically believes that it can happen. Yet world leaders have spent years and years worth of summits, pow wows and conclaves in the hopes of achieving that very goal. So, considering the roll he's on, it's not a surprise that Pope Francis would inevitably undertake the task.
In a recent three-day trip to the Holy Land, the pontiff seemed determined to set both sides on the conflict at ease, visiting holy sites dear to both Palestinians and Israelis. In a seeming attempt to gain street cred with Palestinians, Pope Francis visited the wall that separates Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The pope then prayed at the wall, which stands in Palestinian eyes as one of the symbols of Jewish occupation.
On the other hand, the pontiff is also scheduled to pay tribute to Theodor Herzl, one of the leading figures in the establishment of the Jewish state. The move is surprising considering the Catholic Church's initial opposition to the founding of Israel and really the Church's whole history of established anti-semitism. Heck, they didn't stop holding Jews responsible for the death of Jesus until 1965. Pope Francis, however, seems determined to set a new standard.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the trip was that both officials invited to the peace talks accepted. Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres seemed very willing to meet at the Vatican early next month to discuss a potential process for peace.
President Peres' office release the following statement: "We welcome Pope Francis' invitation to the Vatican. President Peres has supported and will continue to support all avenues to bring about peace."
Unfortunately, the Pope's overtures don't seem to be destined for success. The offer to meet comes mere days after Abbas got into some international hot water for his proposed union with Hamas, an Islamist organization that Israel considers a teeming pack of terrorists. The union has threatened to sever Palestine's ties with America and the EU (on whom they're pretty dependent). The new friendship has also ticked of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who really holds the reigns of power in Israel.
You see, President of Israel is mostly for show. Shimon Peres is 90 years old, he's set to retire over the summer and he doesn't really have any say in the peace in the process. So, while the offer was extremely nice, it would seem that Pope Francis is doomed to suffer the same fate as the rest of the noble people who have tried.