Vatican Treaty Recognizes a Palestinian State

by Henry Austin /  / Updated 
Image: Vatican signs treaty with Palestinian state
Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher, right, and his Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, shake hands after signing a treaty.L'Osservatore Romano / Pool Photo via AP

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The Vatican officially recognized a Palestinian state on Friday by signing a treaty and said it hoped the step would promote peace with Israel.

Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher said he hoped the Holy See’s recognition "may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

He signed the treaty with his Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, and said it could be a model for other Middle Eastern countries.

Israel expressed its disappointment last month when the Vatican announced a final agreement on the treaty, regulating the Catholic Church in Palestinian territories.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the agreement "distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations" with the Israelis over the long-stalled peace process.

The Vatican’s started by negotiating with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which represents Palestinians in countries that don't recognize a Palestinian state.

The switch in designation constitutes an official recognition of a Palestinian state.

The United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a "non-member observer state" in 2012, and the Vatican has previously referred to the "State of Palestine" in communiques.

When Pope Francis visited the Holy Land last year, the official Vatican program referred to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the leader of the "State of Palestine," and the pontiff publicly referred to it at a speech in the West Bank.

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