Vatican officials stress that although agreement was significant, it certainly did not constitute the Holy See\’s first recognition of the \’State of Palestine.\’
Israel expressed “disappointment” Wednesday at the Vatican’s announcement that it reached the outline of an agreement with the Palestinians, as well as the fact that for the first time in an official document the Holy See used the term “State of Palestine.”
The agreement, according to a Vatican statement, “deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine.”
Both Parties, according to the statement, “agreed that the work of the Commission on the text of the Agreement has been concluded, and that the agreement will be submitted to the respective authorities for approval ahead of setting a date in the near future for the signing.”
This agreement between the Vatican and “Palestine,” according to a source in the Foreign Ministry, does not move the peace process forward “and moves the Palestinian leadership further away from returning to direct bilateral relations.”
Israel, the source said, will “study” the agreement and then decide on its steps accordingly.
Israel and the Vatican have themselves been unable, after some 16 years of glacial negotiations, to sign an agreement that would deal with matters such as the status of the Catholic Church in Israel, the issue of sovereignty over some 21 sites in the country, and taxation and expropriation issues.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet Pope Francis, a day before the canonization of two Arab nuns who lived in Ottoman-ruled Palestine in the 19th century. While this may have been the first time that the Vatican used “State of Palestine” in an official document, it is not the first time it has referred to the Palestinian Authority as such in press releases and statements.