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March 7, 2014 3:18 pm

Vatican Affirms Pope Israel Plans Unchanged, Netanyahu Office May Intervene if Diplomats On Strike

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Pope Francis delivering his Christmas address. Photo: Screenshot.

The Vatican on Friday said that Pope Francis’ upcoming planned trip to Israel is still scheduled, despite a strike by Israel’s Foreign Ministry that could complicate logistics, which a source said may have triggered reports that the Papal trip was off.

“The strike may create difficulties but for now there is nothing further as far as were concerned,” said Father Frederico Lombardi of the Vatican, according to the Jerusalem Post.

A source familiar with the matter told The Algemeiner that the Prime Minister’s Office has a back-up plan in place for it to take charge of areas that the Foreign Ministry normally would, similar to how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Los Angeles this week was led by his office, in coordination with the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, though it would have normally fallen to the diplomatic corps.

The source, citing information from the Pope’s office, said that Pope Francis very much insisted that his visit happen while Shimon Peres is still Israel’s President, and with his term ending in May, there is no scope to reschedule. In addition, emails seen between the Pope’s office and Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who will be traveling to Israel for the event, indicate that all is still proceeding as planned.

The Pope’s trip is scheduled for May 24 to 26, includes stops in Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and will mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s visit, the first in modern times. Pope John Paul II visited in 2000 and Benedict XVI came in 2009.

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