JERUSALEM, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Pope Francis urged Israelis and the Palestinians to continue and search for a peaceful solution to the conflict between the two sides on Sunday afternoon upon his arrival at the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv at the start of his visit to Israel.
Francis' speech, given amid an official reception at the airport, focused on the need to strive for a two-state solution and to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
"There is no other way," the pope said, adding that peace will "become a reality and will not remain a dream." Israelis have the right to live in peace and security and that the Palestinians have the right to live in a state of their own, he added.
Francis also repeated an invitation he extended during a visit to Bethlehem earlier on Sunday for Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit the Vatican for " common prayer for peace."
Peres welcomed the invitation, saying he supported any attempts to progress peace.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Pope Francis that his visit "is a chance to show the true Israel, an island of tolerance, assuring the rights of all. We are committed to maintain the status quo at sites holy for Christians, Muslims and Jews."
Pope Francis arrived in Israel on Sunday afternoon, after spending Saturday in Jordan and the beginning of Sunday at the Palestinian territories in the West Bank. He will meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu throughout Sunday and Monday.