Foreign Ministry: Treaty with Vatican Step in Interest of Peace and Stability

RAMALLAH, May 14, 2015 (WAFA) – Palestinian Foreign Ministry hailed Wednesday the treaty that would be signed with Vatican, which would include recognition of the State of Palestine as a step that is in the interest of peace and stability.

“The conclusion of the first treaty on the relation between the State of Palestine and the Holy See is a step that serves the interest of peace and stability, reinforces peaceful coexistence and builds bridges among different cultures, civilizations and religions,” stated the Foreign Ministry in a press release.

The Foreign Ministry affirmed that the conclusion of this treaty comes as the result of the development of historical relations between the State of Palestine and the Holy See and that it affirms Palestine’s status as the birthplace of the divine religions.

The Vatican announced in  a press statement reported by AP that it has concluded the first treaty that formally recognizes the State of Palestine and that the text of the treaty will be signed officially ‘in the near future’.

The treaty “aims to enhance the life and activities of the Catholic Church and its recognition at the judicial level,’ Vatican’s Deputy Foreign Minister Monsignor Antoine Camilleri was quoted in AP as saying.

Palestinian Ambassador to the Holy See ‘Issa Kassissieh confirmed that the deal tackles political relations between Palestine and the Holy See and includes general principles about the Catholic Church’s status and rights in Palestine.

Member of PLO Executive Committee Hanna ‘Amira noted the  Vatican’s recognition of the State of Palestine would have “great impact on the humanitarian and political levels” and affirm the expanding solidarity with the Palestinian people.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the Vatican’s recognition of the State of Palestine as a genuine contribution to peace and justice.

“The significance of this recognition goes beyond the political and legal into the symbolic and moral domains and sends a message to all people of conscience that the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination, formal recognition, freedom, and statehood,” Ashrawi said.

Ashrawi added that the move gains an added significance in the context of the imminent canonization of the two 19th century Palestinian nuns, Sister Marie Alphonsine Ghattas from Jerusalem and Sister Mariam Bawardy from Ibilin village in the Galilee, by His Holiness Pope Francis on May 17.

It added that the move points to the long-standing relationship between the Vatican and the Palestinians and is an affirmation of Palestinian identity, culture and narrative in Palestine as the Holy Land.

“We are extremely encouraged and appreciative of this courageous and moral stand, and it is our hope that those countries that have not yet recognized Palestine will do so in the immediate future,” the statement concluded.

“While it will be the first time the Roman Catholic Church has signed a treaty with the State of Palestine, the Vatican has recognized the state since February 2013.”

According to NY Times, ‘Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was “disappointed” by the Vatican’s decision, and that the recognition would “not advance the peace process.”

“This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations,” the ministry said in a text message received by the Associated Press. “Israel will study the agreement and will consider its steps accordingly,” reported the Guardian on its website.