Pope Francis
Pope FrancisReuters

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed hoped for peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs as he gave his Christmas address at the Vatican.

"Peace to women and men of the beloved Holy Land, the land chosen and favored by God,” said the pope, according to AFP, urging the two sides to "write a new page of history”.

"May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and the determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony," he added.

The pope has repeatedly called for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, particularly in the wake of the wave of violence over the past year, though he has not named Palestinian Arab incitement as the source for the terror in the region.

Last year, he caused an uproar on social media when he referred to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas as "an angel of peace".

The Vatican later explained that the reference was meant as encouragement for Abbas to pursue peace with Israel.