By Dan Wing

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pope Francis is giving a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state by visiting the West Bank before visiting Israel.

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But what does the move mean for the future of talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders?

The Pope’s visit included a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, who is described in the official Vatican program as being the president of the “state of Palestine.”

According to Ian Lustick, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, this sends a clear signal to Israeli leaders.

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“When the Vatican uses it, it is a signal, basically, to Israel that you may not win the war for world public opinion the way things are headed,” Lustick said, “and therefore you should be more interested in negotiations than you seem to be.”

Lustick also notes that even though the Israeli president has accepted the Vatican’s invitation to talk, that doesn’t mean it will happen.

“He’s not the person that counts, it’s the Prime Minister,” he said. “I expect negotiations to begin over the terms under which Israel would come to the Vatican. I don’t think they’re going to be jumping into those negotiations anytime soon.”

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