The Grand Mufti Mohammed Hussein on Tuesday handed the Pope Benedict XVI a letter complaining about Israeli policies in Jerusalem and appealing for the Vatican's help in bringing about Palestinian independence. "We reiterate to you that peace and stability in this country, which have been lacking for decades, can only be achieved with the end of occupation and with our Palestinian people regaining their freedom, their right to self-determination and their other legitimate rights," it said, according to the AP.
Benedict has made reconciliation a major theme of his five-day trip to Israel and the West Bank. On Tuesday, he called on Israel and the Palestinians to engage in "a sincere dialogue aimed at building a world of justice and peace." The pope also visited the Dome of the Rock. His visit there included a private meeting with the top Islamic cleric in the Holy Land.
Hussein, the grand mufti, said afterward that he told the pope of the Palestinians' suffering "and we asked for justice in this Holy Land." He also handed the pope a letter calling on the Vatican to use its influence to end Israel's "aggression" against the Palestinians. Asked how the pope responded, he replied, "We felt he was receptive."