On Friday, the Vatican announced that it had signed a treaty with the “State of Palestine“. The agreement is seen as an important step towards wider recognition and statehood for the Palestinians.
The Vatican first recognized the Palestinian State two years ago and the Vatican is one of 136 states which recognize Palestine.
Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher said that he hoped the Vatican’s recognition of the State of Palestine “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.”
Israel for its part was disappointed in the Vatican’s decision to formally recognize Palestine.
“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.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki signed the treaty on behalf of the Palestinian Authority at the Vatican and called it “a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, free from the shackles of occupation.”
The treaty pertains to the rights of the Catholic Church in territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
In 2012, the United Nations granted Palestine non-observer state status at a meeting of the General Assembly.
The U.S. opposes the recognition of Palestine, saying that unilateral recognition undermines the American led peace negotiations between the two parties.
[Associated Press][Reuters][Al Jazeera]