In a formal declaration, the Vatican officially recognized Palestine as a state in a treaty that was signed on June 26, which the Vatican believes will help to encourage stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to The Associated Press, Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki both signed the treaty at the Vatican in a ceremony.
The Vatican announced support for Palestinian statehood last month, in an effort to quell animosity between Palestine and Israel. Palestine supported the good measure and agreed to protections and fewer regulations of Catholics, Christians and the Catholic Church in its own nation and other Middle Eastern nations.
Israel remains disappointed, saying the treaty will inhibit any progress of peace talks between the two bitter neighbors. An Israel Foreign Ministry statement said leaders would study the treaty to figure out “its implications for future cooperation between Israel and the Vatican.”
The treaty comes after 15 years of negotiations and Gallagher believes the agreement could lead to a “stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both parties,” The New York Times reported.
Gallagher also urged the two nations to take “courageous decisions” so other nations could witness the “much desired two-state solution” come to fruition.
For the last three years, the Vatican has referred to the “state of Palestine,” but it did not become official until the signing of the treaty. Al-Malki said the signing was “historic” and that it represented “a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, free from the shackles of occupation.”
The U.S. has never supported a Palestinian state and has repeatedly agreed with Israel that any grant of statehood would hinder peace talks. Even nations in Europe have refused to recognize Palestine as a state, but many have indicated a different position if Israel does not continue peace talks.
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