- Title: WEST BANK: Palestinians prepare to welcome Pope Francis to Bethlehem
- Date: 25th May 2014
- Summary: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (MAY 25, 2014) (REUTERS) BANNER THAT SHOWS PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS SHAKING HANDS WITH POPE FRANCIS BANNER OVER STREET PEOPLE CROSSING STREET VARIOUS OF PALESTINIAN SECURITY ON STREET BANNER WITH IMAGE OF FRANCIS THAT READS IN ENGLISH, "WELCOME" SECURITY VEHICLES VARIOUS OF PEOPLE GATHERED IN MANGER SQUARE WOMAN WEARING CAP AND SUNGLASSES MEDIA SETTING UP VARIOUS OF BUILDING IN MANGER SQUARE PEOPLE SITTING NUNS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BETHLEHEM RESIDENT GEORGE ZINA WHO HELPED ORGANISE CROWD: "It is our job to make sure things are orderly and well organised at Manger Square. It is also our duty to pray along with his holiness the Pope and we hope for peace in our nation and an end to the occupation." CLOSE VIEW OF TOURIST MARTINA SIDLE (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM SLOVAKIA, MARTINA SIDLE, SAYING: "I'm waiting for the mass and I will stay until all of the mass." SIDLE AT THE SQUARE FLAG BEING WAVED (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RAMLA RESIDENT KHADER AZAR SAYING: "We are here to take part in the Pope's mass and this will be the first time that I will meet him in person and see him. My feeling cannot be described." BOYS WAVING FLAGS VATICAN FLAG SECURITY VARIOUS TOP VIEWS OF MANGER SQUARE NATIVITY CHURCH SECURITY STANDING ON ROOFTOP OF CHURCH BANNER SHOWING ABBAS FACING POPE, WHO HOLDS DOVE VARIOUS OF HELIPAD WHERE POPE'S HELICOPTER WILL ARRIVE VAN PASSING SECURITY IN HELIPAD SECURITY VEHICLES VARIOUS OF PALESTINIAN AND VATICAN FLAGS VARIOUS OF SECURITY PERSONNEL CAR ENTERING GATE
- Embargoed: 9th June 2014 13:00
- Location: West bank
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: General,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA11HVS3Q8ZZGJXE1YJ75Q77MB
- Story Text: Pope Francis flies to the West Bank on Sunday (May 25) to start the most delicate part of his stay in the Middle East, with visits to the Palestinian Territories and Israel, where his every word will be scrutinized.
At the West Bank biblical town of City of Bethlehem, security was deployed as worshippers flocked to Manger Square, where the Pope will hold mass later on during the day.
"It is our job to make sure things are orderly and well organised at Manger Square. It is also our duty to pray along with his holiness the Pope and we hope for peace in our nation and an end to the occupation," an organiser George Zina said.
Tourists, pilgrims and residents found spots in the square early morning, to have the chance to hear the Pope say mass.
"I'm waiting for the mass and I will stay until all of the mass," a tourist from Slovakia, Martina Sidle, said.
The choir practiced and the stage was set as worshippers and tourists filed into Manger Square, close to where Christians believe Jesus was born.
Posters of Pope Fancis are plastered all over Bethlehem.
Church officials say his three-day tour of the region, which started on Saturday (May 24) in Jordan, is purely focused on religious issues. However, the dividing lines of the generations-old Middle East conflict will be impossible to ignore.
Francis will fly straight by helicopter to Bethlehem, becoming the first pontiff to travel directly to the West Bank rather than enter via Israel - a decision hailed by Palestinian officials as a recognition of their push for full statehood.
His trip comes at a time of renewed uncertainty, with the latest in a long line of U.S.-backed peace talks collapsing last month amid mutual recrimination and no clear ideas emerging over how to end decades of bloodshed and deadlock.
The Vatican supports the vision of an independent Palestine living in peace alongside Israel, and Francis on Saturday called for a "just solution" to the conflict - the sort of neutral, anodyne language he is expected to adhere to during the stay.
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