Pope Francis three-day trip to the Middle East wraps up Monday. Francis navigated the minefield of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the visit, and he humbly bowed to kiss the hands of Holocaust survivors on Monday in Jerusalem. He toured the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on the last day of the tour.
The fourth pope to visit Israel, Francis had earlier became the first to lay a wreath at the tomb of Theodor Herzl, seen as the founder of modern Zionism that led to Israel's foundation. At the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he also made an unannounced stop at Israel's "Memorial to the Victims of Terror", the day after unexpectedly praying at a towering Israeli security wall that is despised by Palestinians.
In a mirror image of the halt at the graffiti-smeared wall, Francis put both hands on the neat stone and marble monument and bowed his head - an image that pleased his Israeli hosts who had smarted in silence over Sunday's impromptu stop.
On Sunday, Pope Francis visited Bethlehem and conducted mass in the city's Manger Square, where he urged peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He also made a surprise stop on Sunday at the wall Palestinians abhor as a symbol of Israeli oppression and later invited presidents from both sides of the divide to the Vatican to pray for peace.
On Saturday, during his first stop in Jordan, Francis called for an "urgent" end to the Syrian civil war and lamented the refugee crisis it has spawned. Francis also urged greater religious rights for minority Christians across the region, thanking King Abdullah II for encouraging a "climate of serene coexistence" between Christians and Muslims.