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ISRAEL: Pope gets a glimpse of competing claims to Jerusalem

Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival in Jerusalem set off a scramble among Israelis and Palestinians to demonstrate their claims to the city, an issue on which the Vatican is neutral; it favors an international protectorate in the city to safeguard the sites holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews

Benedict landed by helicopter Monday in East Jerusalem to a ceremonial greeting staged by Mayor Nir Barkat to emphasize Israel's control over the entire city. In Hebrew, he welcomed the pope to "the capital of Israel," a status that does not have international recognition. His remarks in English omitted that label.

As dozens of Christian, Jewish and Muslim schoolchildren cheered and waved at the helipad on Mount Scopus, loudspeakers played "Jerusalem of Gold," a song commemorating Israel's capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War.

Benedict did not speak at the ceremony. But he accepted Barkat's gift of an etching that reproduced an ancient map depicting Jerusalem at the center of the world.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority, which wants East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, set up a media center in a hotel in the city’s eastern part for journalists covering the pope's pilgrimage. Israeli police, empowered by law to ban Palestinian Authority gatherings in the city, closed down the center and seized media material as Palestinian officials were about to begin a news conference.

Later, at a gathering of participants in an interfaith forum, a Palestinian Muslim cleric commandeered the microphone and made an unscheduled speech denouncing Israel. He began by welcoming the pope to “Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine.”

— Richard Boudreaux in Jerusalem

Full coverage: Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Comments () | Archives (3)

Mr. Boo dreaux is part of the propaganda brigade. Any one who puts all the oweness of the divisions upon Israel is just an idiot who really cares about Christian control more than the real problems.

How many Jewish sites did the Pope visit in Jordan or elsewhere?

How many Muslim sites?

Mr. Boudreaux should do his homework -- the song "Jerusalem of Gold" was not written to commeorate the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967. Rather, it was written for a 1967 Israeli song festival and was performed before the Six Day War. It gained great prominence and popularity after the war. Please read about the song at


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