Israel demands Pope Benedict XVI condemn Holocaust deniers

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The Israeli government demanded that Pope Benedict XVI explicitly condemn Catholics who deny the Holocaust, as he arrived in Jordan on the first leg of his tour of the Holy Land billed as an act of 'reconciliation'.

The intervention came despite repeated concessions in the lead-up to the tour by the Vatican, which is desperate to smooth difficult relations with both the Jewish and Muslim worlds.

The Pope insists his eight-day trip is a "pilgrimage" to Holy Land sites but it has become embroiled in disputes over controversial comments he has made affecting relations with both religions.

The Pope will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Monday, but he will not step inside the museum. He has backed the canonisation of the wartime pope, Pius XII, whose photograph in the museum is adorned with a caption accusing him of not doing enough to speak up for or help the Jews.

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