Pope Francis is expected to visit Jordan and Israel on 25 and 26 May 2014, with a visit to Bethlehem in Palestinian territory on the second day.
He is also reported to be considering visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan as well as King Abdullah II. In Israel, the pope is certain to press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pick up on the thorny issue of Catholic institutions in the Holy Land. Churches acquired large amounts of land around Jerusalem from the early 19th century, before Israel was founded in 1948.
Israel and the Vatican are struggling to end a long-running dispute over the ownership and tax status of religious sites in Israel, including a place revered as the location of Jesus' last supper.
Date written/update: 2014-05-24