In a new treaty finalized on May 13, the Vatican now recognizes Palestine as its own state, which has left the Israeli government "disappointed."
The treaty remains specific to discussing the presence of the Catholic Church on Palestinian grounds, but also explicitly states the recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine, the Associated Press reports.
The Israeli government released a statement shortly after the news of the treaty was announced, with an expected feeling of “disappointment” from its leaders.
“This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from retuning to direct and bilateral negotiations,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a text message.
The U.S. has sided with Israel numerous times in opposing the state recognition, saying that it would negatively influence the ongoing peace process between the Israeli and Palestinian governments. There has been tension between the two nations for centuries, with some of the most well-known international battles occurring between the two foes.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 17. He is reportedly traveling to Rome to attend Francis' canonization of two new saints from the Holy Land on Sunday.
“This is a very important recognition as the Vatican has a very important political status that stems from its spiritual status. We expect more EU countries to follow,” Nabil Shaath, Abbas’ senior aide, said.
Pope Francis has repeatedly shown support for a Palestinian state, with the Vatican informally referring to the nation as the “state of Palestine” since last year, The New York Times reported.
Jamal Khader, the leader of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary in Jerusalem, said Pope Francis and his secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, want to create a new relationship with Palestine that they hope will expand globally.
“The wider Arab world often thinks that it’s a Christian West against a Muslim East, so this is an important step from the Catholic Church to show that, no, it is standing with the rights of Palestinians, and with the right to a state of Palestine,” he said.