The Associated Press
February 22, 2009 - 1:00am,7340,L-3675872,00.html

A group of Palestinian Christians has asked Pope Benedict XVI to call off his planned visit to the Holy Land in May.

The 40 community activists wrote to the pope that his visit would help boost Israel's image and inadvertently minimize Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation.

The group urged the pope to link his visit to a series of Israeli measures. The letter said this must include improved access to Christian places of worship and halting taxation of church properties.

Christians from the West Bank, like their Muslim counterparts, need special permits to reach Jerusalem and its holy places. Gazans have been cut off from the world for 20 months.

The pontiff is to visit the Holy Land May 8-15, including stops in Jordan, the West Bank and Israel.


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