In a treaty that is expected to be signed in the near future, the Vatican will formally recognize Palestinian statehood. The agreement reached on Wednesday will also manage the activities of the Catholic Church in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
“Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
The move is likely to anger Israel, which it believes will not be conducive to advancing peace negotiations.
The Vatican published a ‘Joint Statement of the Bilateral Commission of the Holy Sea and the State of Palestine’ on its website on Wednesday. It said “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 move to recognize statehood is not new for the Vatican, as it has recognized it as “the state of Palestine” in its yearbook and during Pope Francis’ visit to the region in 2014.
“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,” Lombardi said.
The movement to recognize a Palestinian state has grown over the past several months. The United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain and France have all passed motions in favor of recognition, as has the European Parliament. Sweden has officially recognized Palestine as state.
In 2012, the United Nations upgraded Palestine to a nonmember observer state. In the General Assembly vote, 138 countries in favor, 9 opposed and 41 abstaining
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to meets Pope Francis at the at the Vatican this weekend when two 19th century nuns will become the first modern-day Palestinian saints to be canonized.