Vatican Officially Recognizes Palestine as a State

Vatican Officially Recognizes Palestine as a State

Pope Francis has actively worked to have the Vatican play a larger diplomatic role on the world stage.

The Vatican officially recognized Palestine Saturday after an agreement signed last year formally came into effect. 

“The Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for (the accord’s) entry into force have been fulfilled,” the Vatican said in a statement.

The Vatican had de facto recognized Palestine as a state when it welcomed a U.N. General Assembly resolution in 2012 admitting Palestine as an observer non-member state, the same status enjoyed by the Vatican in the U.N.

A treaty signed between the Vatican and Palestine in June 2015 formalized that recognition as the text referred to the “the state of Palestine” instead of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as was previously the case.

The treaty deals with the operations of the Catholic Church in territories under the Palestinian Authority.

“The Agreement … regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region,” the Vatican said.

Critically, the treaty recognizes the 1967 borders as those constituting the Palestinian state. Israel has steadily encroached on those borders since, building settlements in areas recognized by the international community as being Palestinian territory.

Israel has previously criticized the Vatican’s accord with Palestine. However, Pope Francis has made an effort to play a larger diplomatic role on the world stage, helping broker a deal between Cuba and the United States in 2014 that saw a renewal in diplomatic relations.

Pope Francis visited Cuba in September 2015, where he delivered a message of peace and reconciliation.

The pope is also interested in playing a larger role in the Middle East due to the effects of conflicts in Syria, Iraq and other countries on Christians.

Pope Francis met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this past May, where he praised him as “an angel of peace.”

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