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Politics left behind as Mideast rivals head to Vatican

Israel's President Shimon Peres (R) welcomes Pope Francis at the president's residence in Jerusalem on May 26, 2014Israel’s government is boycotting its Palestinian counterpart with relations to a new low, and when their two presidents join Pope Francis in a Vatican prayer for peace on Sunday politics are likely to be absent. Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Abbas have been acquaintances for years and held peace talks together, and have their separate reasons for honouring the pope’s desire to keep the weekend event as free of controversy as possible. Then everyone goes home,” Francis said after issuing the invitations during a pilgrimage to the Middle East last month. Under Israel’s political system, Peres’s role as president is largely ceremonial.

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