Israeli government welcomes May Papal visit

Other News Materials 15 February 2009 17:37 (UTC +04:00)

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed on Sunday the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Holy Land, disclosing that the visit would take place in May and saying that the "whole Israeli government" was behind it, dpa reported.

Pope Benedict announced the official visit while meeting US Jewish leaders on Thursday, but had not disclosed a date, the moves coming in the wake of the Bishop Williamson Holocaust denial scandal.

Olmert said in a statement released during Sunday's cabinet session that the official reception of the Pope would be carried out by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Relations between Israel and the Vatican were soured when, in January, the Pope moved to lift the excommunication of Williamson, who had previously made comments denying the Holocaust.

The Israeli Holocaust memorial centre, Yad Vashem, welcomed on Thursday Benedict's public condemnation of Holocaust denial.