The Vatican has granted formal recognition to a State of Palestine and Israel is not happy. The move came as part of a new treaty between the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority.
The treaty, which was agreed to yesterday but not yet formally signed, deals with Roman Catholic institutions in the areas of the Palestinian Authority. It specifically refers to a State of Palestine and not just the PLO.
“Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists, ” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
A Vatican statement said Wednesday that “Both Parties 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.”
The change should come as no surprise as the Vatican has been moving in this direction for some time now. It formally approved of UN resolutions calling for an independent Palestinian State and has been strengthening its relations with the PA over the past few years.
The problem is that such moves by world governments make Palestinian statehood a fait accomplis, instead of waiting for the final negotiations to be completed. This makes it ever more difficult for Israel to negotiate from a strong position.
If the other side already knows that it is getting what it wants anyway then it has no incentive to make concessions.
Israel is, of course, disappointed to say the least. Its Foreign Ministry stated, “This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations.”
“Israel will study the agreement and will consider its steps accordingly, ” it added.
David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel, commented to The New York Times, “Even this philo-Semitic pope, this pope who cares about the Jews, even he doesn’t get it. Every time something like this happens, there’s this sense of anguish. Why don’t you understand? We want to separate from the Palestinians, but on terms that don’t threaten our security.”
“We appreciate that the Vatican’s basic intention is to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, but believe that this diplomatic recognition will be unhelpful to that end, ” the ADL’s Abraham Foxman said.