Monday meeting set between Pope and Israeli prime minister
After some diplomatic embarrassment earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will finally meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Their high-profile audience will take place on Monday morning at 10:30, inside the Apostolic Palace. Their meeting is notable for a few reasons.
The first is that the Pope is largely expected to visit Israel sometime in 2014, and the prime minister could renew the invitation. But without any official confirmation from the Vatican, the meeting with Netanyahu could be the best chance to get some clues from the Pope himself.
The meeting the Pope Francis will also allow Netanyahu to save face, after a supposed meeting last month never took place.
On October 17, the Pope welcomed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican, and even gave him a very symbolic gift.
"As a gift, here's a pen. I'm sure you have plenty of documents to sign.â?
"I hope to use this pen to sign a peace accord with Israel. Let's hope.â?
Netanyahu's office then told the media he would also be meeting with Pope Francis just a few days after Abbas. But, the Vatican denied it and said a meeting was never scheduled.
This time around, everything is set for the meeting. It will be Netanyahu's second official visit to the Vatican.
Previously, the Israeli prime minister had met with Benedict XVI in May 2009, when the Pope emeritus visited the Holy Land. Before then, he visited the Vatican to meet with John Paul II in 1997, during his first term as prime minister.
Earlier this year, in April, Pope Francis welcomed Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Vatican. The Pope's visit to the Holy Land was also at the center of their lighthearted meeting.
President of Israel
"I am waiting for you in Jerusalem, and not just me, but all the people from Israel.â?