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Vatican recognizes state of Palestine in new treaty

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(Vatican-AlummahWorld, 25 Rajab 1436, 14 May 2015) The Vatican has officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty.

The treaty, which was finalized Wednesday but still has to be signed, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.

The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state. But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and constitutes an official diplomatic recognition.

"Yes, it's a recognition that the state exists," said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to visit Pope Francis on Saturday before the canonization of two new saints from the Holy Land a day later.

The Vatican has been referring unofficially to the state of Palestine for at least a year.

During Pope Francis' 2014 visit to the Holy Land, the Vatican's official program referred to Abbas as the president of the "state of Palestine." In the Vatican's latest yearbook, the Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See is listed as representing "Palestine (state of)."

The Vatican's foreign minister, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, acknowledged the change in status, given that the treaty was initially inked with the PLO and is now being finalized with the "state of Palestine." But he said the shift was simply in line with the Holy See's position.

Joint Statement of the Bilateral Commission of the Holy See and the State of Palestine at the conclusion of the Plenary Meeting 13.05.2015

On 13 May 2015, the Bilateral Commission of the Holy See and the State of Palestine, which is working on a Comprehensive Agreement following on the Basic Agreement, signed on 15 February 2000, held a Plenary Session in the Vatican to acknowledge the work done at an informal level by the joint technical group following the last official meeting held in Ramallah at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine on 6 February 2014.

The talks were chaired by Mgr Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, and by Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Multilateral Affairs of the State of Palestine.

The discussions took place in a cordial and constructive atmosphere. Taking up the issues already examined at an informal level, the Commission noted with great satisfaction the progress achieved in formulating the text of the Agreement, which deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine.

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 members of the Delegation of the Holy See were:
1. Mgr Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States;
2. His Excellency Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine;
3. His Excellency Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio;
4. Father Luciano Lorusso, Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches;
5. Mgr Alberto Ortega, Official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State;
6. Father Emil Salayta, Judicial Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The members of the Palestinian Delegation were:
1. Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Multilateral Affairs;
2. Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, Representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See;
3. Mr Ammar Hijazi, Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Multilateral Affairs;
4. Mr Azem Bishara, Juridical Counsellor of the PLO.