Israel has joined the world in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II. “We participate in the sorrow of millions of Christians,” said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Pope John Paul II was a man of peace, a friend of the Jewish people. He understood the uniqueness of the Jewish people, he worked for a historic reconciliation and for the establishment of diplomatic ties between Israel and the Vatican…The world has lost one of the important leaders of our generation.” The pope made a lasting impression on Israelis during his pilgrimage here five years ago, when he asked the Jewish people for forgiveness for centuries of persecution by the Roman Catholic Church. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom will represent Israel at the Pope’s funeral in Rome.