For the first time, the Vatican officially referred to “the state of Palestine” in a new treaty Wednesday, drawing criticism from Israel.
Israel expressed “disappointment” at the Vatican’s announcement that it had reached a draft agreement with the Palestinians, and the reference to a Palestinian state.
The Vatican said that the agreement “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.”
“We’re disappointed by the decision taken by the Vatican. We believe that such a decision is not conducive to bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel.
Israel will “study” the agreement and then determine its response.
While Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi conceded it was the Vatican’s first official reference to a Palestinian state, he insisted it was really nothing new.
“We have recognized the state of Palestine ever since it was given recognition by the United Nations and it is already listed as the state of Palestine in our official yearbook,” he said.
Conference of Presidents leaders Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman; and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO; expressed regret at the recognition of a Palestinian state by the Vatican. “We believe that this action by the Vatican, like similar moves by other countries, serves to undermine the prospects for peace, which can only be achieved by direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The prospect for such negotiations is diminished by this action.”