May 23 - Preparations are underway for Pope Francis' visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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Preparations are underway to welcome Pope Francis to Jerusalem on his first visit to the region since becoming pontiff.
The Pope is due to tour the Holy Land from May 24 through 26th, visiting Jordan, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The red carpet is being rolled out in Jerusalem. And security is very tight. The Israeli police say they are leaving nothing to chance.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI POLICE SPOKESPERSON MICKY ROSENFELD, SAYING:
"The significance and the importance of the visit both on a political, a religious, and a security level, and therefore all of our different units both the border police, undercover units, helicopter units and with the use of 320 security cameras in and around the Old City will be securing the Pope visit throughout the areas and all of the places where he will be visiting."
In Bethlehem they are preparing a gift for the Pope at the Christian Ecumenical Foundation.
Regional Director Anthony Habash.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HOLY LAND CHRISTIAN ECUMENICAL FOUNDATION REGIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTHONY HABASH, SAYING:
"The gift is a symbolic one. We added to it stone bits from the wall so he will always keep in mind the wall and remember that there is a Palestinian people who are permanently under siege. We hope that this gift will be a special one to him as it is a symbol of the suffering of the Palestinian people."
Palestinian officials are looking to the Pope's visit to bolster their bid for statehood. They are pleased that he is traveling from Jordan directly to the West Bank.
Pope Francis is the fourth Roman Catholic pontiff to visit the Holy Land.
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