Israeli and Palestinian presidents embrace in Vatican Gardens during historic 'invocation for peace'

Pope Francis has called on God to act where human efforts have failed to end what he described as violence inspired by the Devil during a ceremony attended by the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the Evil One, employing a variety of means, has succeeded in blocking it,” the Pope said at an evening ceremony in the Vatican Gardens. “That is why we are here, because we know and we believe that we need the help of God.”

The Pope addressed his remarks to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during an “invocation for peace” in the Holy Land, to which he had invited them during his visit to the region two weeks earlier.

“I was young, now I am old. I experienced war, I tasted peace,” Mr Peres said in an English portion of his statement. “Never will I forget the bereaved families, parents and children, who paid the cost of war. And all my life I shall never stop to act for peace for the generations to come. Let’s all of us join hands and make it happen.”