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Pope Endorses Palestinian State In West Bank Visit

Pope Palestine

Before Pope Francis departed on his trip to Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel, there was much speculation that he’d end up stirring up some news in the area, and it turns out that speculation was correct:

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Arriving here on Sunday, Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and gave the Palestinians an uncommon boost by openly endorsing “the State of Palestine.”

Francis called for “a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security,” and for intensified efforts for the creation of two states — meaning a Palestinian state alongside Israel — within internationally recognized borders.

“In expressing my closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict, I wish to state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to this situation, which has become increasingly unacceptable,” he said in remarks after a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

Referring to Mr. Abbas as “a peacemaker,” the pope then attested to “the good relations existing between the Holy See and the State of Palestine,” according to an official translation of the speech provided by the Holy See press office.

In most respects this statement isn’t really all that different from the Vatican’s position on Middle East peace and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as it has been expressed by previous Popes. However, the fact that the comments were made in the West Bank is fairly significant. What impact it will actually have on the peace process, though, is an entirely different question.

Ostensibly, the purpose of the Pope’s visit to the Middle East is to mark the 50th Anniversary of an appearance there by Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch of Constantinople. That meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew will happen later today. However, comments like this are likely to draw far more attention, especially since Israeli President Peres and Palestinian President Abbas have accepted an invitation to meet at the Vatican:

JERUSALEM — The offices of the Israeli and Palestinian presidents are confirming that they have accepted an invitation from Pope Francis to visit the Vatican together next month.

At the end of an open-air Mass in the biblical town of Bethlehem on Sunday, Francis invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the Vatican to pray for peace.

The offices of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres both said they would attend.

Given that the real political power in Israel lies with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this is more of a symbolic visit than anything substantive, but diplomacy is often built on symbolism.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. How long until someone proclaims an Antipope?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I told you this Pope was an anti-Semite. As far as Shimon Peres, well, he is just another self-hating Jew who wants the State of Israel to fail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  3. rudderpedals says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    How long until someone proclaims an Antipope?

    He has a website

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Andre Kenji says:

    I think that any talk about a two state solution is useless. Neither Gaza nor the West Bank are viable as independent states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. rudderpedals says:

    @Andre Kenji: I think you’re right. Do you see Gazans or West bankers accepting confederation with Egypt or Jordan?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Andre Kenji says:

    @rudderpedals: I would see West Bank being absorbed by Jordan, specially if there is somekind of financial compensation to them. But Gaza is a larger problem, because Egypt largely ignores Sinai, that´s basically no man´s land.

    But I don´t see any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unless Gaza and the West Bank are either absorbed by Israel(as citizens) or by a larger Arab Country(Maybe Jordan, maybe Egypt, maybe Lebanon).

    The best solution for an independent Gaza would be to become something like an American Indian Reservation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. An Interested Party says:

    But I don´t see any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unless Gaza and the West Bank are either absorbed by Israel(as citizens)

    The Israeli government would never allow that to happen as it would turn Israel away from being a “Jewish state”…

    …or by a larger Arab Country(Maybe Jordan, maybe Egypt, maybe Lebanon).

    The best solution for an independent Gaza would be to become something like an American Indian Reservation.

    The Palestinians would never allow either of these to happen as they would mean the end of any kind of two-state solution…

    So in other words, no end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict anytime soon, if ever…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Andre Kenji says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I don´t think that Arabs want a Two State solution, precisely because they know that in practice that would become a Three State solution, with two states that are not viable as such.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. bill says:

    @An Interested Party: and jordan/egypt have enough problems with unemployment- maybe they could all move to iran, they seem eager to help?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Lounsbury says:

    What “Arabs” are interested in is virtually beside the point. What Palestinians are interested in is rather more relevant.

    The idea of a West Bank federation with Jordan is a non-starter. First, it has already been tried (for the historically clueless, see 1948-1967).

    Second, the Jordanian monarchy will not go for it as their power based is the Bedouin / interior Jordanians and not the Palestinian / West Bankers. The already delicate power balance would collapse with a federation, the Monarchy wouldn’t survive and they know it.

    Really if you’re going to invent Pie in the Sky “solutions” at least try to do so with a minimum of ignorance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0