Vatican signs first treaty with ‘State of Palestine,’ backs two-state solution
The accord, the result of 15 years of negotiations, covers “essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine,” the Vatican said in a statement.
In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said the agreement could be a “stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both parties.”
He also called for the two countries to take “courageous decisions” so that the “much desired two-state solution may become a reality as soon as possible.”
The Vatican said last month that it would sign the agreement, which Archbishop Gallagher described as offering “a good example of dialogue and cooperation” to other countries in the Middle East, where some Christians have suffered persecution.
Archbishop Gallagher and Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki of the Palestinian Authority signed the treaty at a ceremony in the Vatican.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry expressed its disappointment on Friday, calling the signing of a treaty “a hasty step” that hurt the prospects of peace.
“This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.
The Israeli government surely knew this was coming. Back in May when the Vatican first signaled a shifting Palestine policy, commentators and pro-Israel writers warned that such decisions would, in fact make the odds of peace less likely. “By granting the Palestinians official recognition without first requiring them to make peace with Israel, Pope Francis and the church have only made it less likely that this will ever happen,” Jonathan Tobin wrote for Commentary magazine on May 13.