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Dershowitz: 'I Admire the Pope' for Pushing Abbas Toward Peace

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 07:41 PM

Give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt for the "angel of peace" comment that he directed at the leader of the Palestinians, famed lawyer and prominent Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.

Dershowitz said he is satisfied that the Pope, speaking in Italian, was urging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to become an angel of peace and was not proclaiming him one based on past behavior — an impression left by news reports about their meeting on Saturday at the Vatican.

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"I admire the Pope for what he said and I don't think we should make a big deal out of … grammatical differences," said Dershowitz, noting that Italian is not the Argentine-born Pontiff's first language.

On the heels of the Vatican extending formal diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state, a move opposed by Israel and the United States, the "angel" comment caused another uproar. Critics said Abbas has been anything but peaceful toward Israel during a long and bloody standoff.

Dershowitz agreed that Abbas "is certainly not an angel of peace."

"He honors terrorists, names parks after terrorists," he said. "The Palestinian Authority promotes advocacy of terrorism in their schools and in their textbooks."

But he added, "I doubt [Francis] declared him in the past to be a prince of peace. I'm sure he meant to say that this is an aspiration and a hope. I hope he's right."

"I hope [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will be a king of peace, an angel of peace," Dershowitz also said. "Both of them — we need them to try a little bit harder to bring peace about."

Dershowitz was joined on air by the Rev. Gerald Murray of the Holy Family Catholic Church in New York City, and both panelists pointed out that Vatican initiatives for Middle East peace are not new.

"As you recall, he visited the Holy Land last year," Murray said of Pope Francis. "He then invited the presidents of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to come to Rome to talk and to pray. He's made a lot of efforts to hopefully break the deadlock, which is a political matter, of course. But he says the solution is not simply political; it's got to be prayer and a common desire to serve God."

Dershowitz called Francis "a great Pope" and "a terrific friend of the Jewish people."

He also described Abbas as "a potential partner for peace," noting that in 1993, Israel's then-prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, shook hands with Yasser Arafat, who as head of the militant Palestine Liberation Organization had "blood on his hands."

"You're covered with the velvet glove of diplomacy when you're a Pope or when you're a president," said Dershowitz.

"I'm just a private citizen and I don't have to shake hands with people who I believe have the blood of Americans, the blood of Israelis and the blood of many people on their hands," he said. "The Pope does, and I admire the Pope for this. I'm not going to criticize him, and I am critical of those people who claim to be insulted by this.

"There's room for improvement on all sides in the quest for peace in the Middle East," said Dershowitz. "If the Pope can help bring about some degree of peace through prayer, meditation, aspiration, God bless him."

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Give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt for the "angel of peace" comment that he directed at the leader of the Palestinians, famed lawyer and prominent Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.
Pope Francis, angel, peace, Palestinians, Dershowitz, Israel
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Wednesday, 20 May 2015 07:41 PM
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