Vatican To Recognize Palestinian State
The Vatican has announced that it will recognize Palestinian statehood, but this is not going to resolve the underlying issues that prevent a Palestinian state from actually coming into existence.
Vatican City will recognize the existence of a Palestinian state:
ROME — The Vatican said Wednesday that it had concluded a treaty to recognize Palestinian statehood, a symbolic but significant step welcomed by Palestinians but upsetting to the Israeli government.
Formal recognition of a Palestinian state by the Vatican, which has deep religious interests in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories that include Christian holy sites, lends a powerful signal of legitimacy to the efforts by the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, to achieve statehood despite the long paralyzed Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about the increased international acceptance of Palestine as a state since the United Nations upgraded the Palestinian delegation’s status in 2012 to that of a nonmember observer state. A number of European countries have also signaled their acceptance of Palestinian statehood.
A statement from a joint commission of Vatican and Palestinian diplomatic officials, posted on the Vatican news website, said “the work of the commission on the text of the agreement has been concluded,” and that it would be submitted for formal approval and for signing “in the near future.”
Hanna Amireh, head of a Palestinian committee on church affairs, said the treaty was a broad one regarding the Vatican’s interests in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, including the standing of churches and church courts and taxes on church charities, institutions and lands, as well as other cultural and diplomatic matters. He said it had been under negotiation for about a year.
“The Vatican is the spiritual capital of the Catholics, and they are recognizing Palestine, that’s the chief importance,” said Mr. Amireh, who is also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee. The move counters an image of Palestinians as militants or terrorists, he added, as a “recognition of the Palestinian character that has a clear message for coexistence and peace.”
A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under diplomatic protocol, said Israel was “disappointed to hear” about the Vatican’s use of the term “state” in its new treaty.
“This step does not advance the peace process and pushes the Palestinian leadership further away from returning to a direct and bilateral negotiation,” the official said in a statement, echoing Israel’s reactions to a series of recent parliamentary resolutions on Palestinian statehood in European nations. “Israel will study the agreement and consider its next steps accordingly.”
Recognition by the Vatican is likely to add some credibility to the efforts by the Palestinian Authority to seek recognition of their status as a state by other nations of the world or even by the United Nations. So far, a Palestinian State has been recognized by approximately 135 of the 193 nations that are members of the United Nations. Additionally, the Palestinians have recognition from some international entities not affiliated with the United Nations. However, most of the major nations of Europe, along with the United States, as well as major American allies such as Japan, South Korea, Australia have Canada have not recognized Palestine as a state, although most of them do have some form of diplomatic relationship with the Palestinian Authority. It’s unlikely that most of those nations will recognize a Palestinian state, though, until the underlying disputes with Israel are resolved.
In reality, though, there is not going to be final resolution of this matter unless and until the Israelis and the Palestinians agree to a final resolution that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state along with guarantees for Israel’s legitimate security concerns. There haven’t been fruitful negotiations on this issue for years, of course. Palestinians blame that largely on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and specifically his insistence on continuing the construction of new settlements in areas around Jerusalem. Israelis, meanwhile, argue that final resolution of the Palestinian issue can’t happen as long as Hamas continues to control Gaza and continues to have the destruction of Israel as its founding goal. Given the war in Gaza last year, which started because Hamas was lobbing rockets into Israel on a regular basis, it’s hard to deny the legitimacy of Israel’s security concerns. With the talks at an effective stalemate, though, and policy unlikely to change in either Jerusalem or Ramallah in the foreseeable future, it would appear that this issue will remain unresolved and largely ignored by the world until the next war.