The Vatican concluded its first treaty that formally recognises the State of Palestine, a move that gives legal weight to the Holy See’s years-long recognition and that drew fast criticism from supporters of Israel, Reuters reports.
The agreement, which the Vatican said aimed to “enhance the life and activities of the Catholic Church and its recognition at the judicial level,” comes days before Pope Francis is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and is likely to solidify relations between the Vatican and Palestinians.
The text of the treaty, covering Church activities in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, has been concluded and will be officially signed by the respective authorities “in the near future,” said a joint statement released by the Vatican.
Abbas is due to attend a Mass at the Vatican on Sunday to make saints of two 19th and 20th century Palestinian-born nuns.
Vatican officials stressed that the Holy See had given official recognition to the State of Palestine since 2012.
The Vatican’s deputy foreign minister, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, said in an interview with the Holy See’s official newspaper that he hoped the agreement would indirectly help the Palestinian State in its relations with Israel.