The Holy See has signed a Comprehensive Agreement with the State of Palestine today.
The agreement defines the juridical status of the Catholic Church in the country as well as officially recognizing Palestine as a State. It also promotes a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In an address following the signing, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States noted that the agreement “marks an important step on the path of good relations which for some time have happily existed between the Parties.”
The current agreement, he went on to say, was indicative of the progress made by the Palestinian Authority, particularly its recognition by the United Nations as a non-member Observer State. He also expressed his hope that the agreement would help foster a solution to the current conflict.
“It is my hope that the present Agreement may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” he said.
“I also hope that the much desired two-State solution may become a reality as soon as possible.”
Archbishop Gallagher went on to say that the peace process can only move forward if Israel and Palestine negotiate directly, with the support of the international community.
“In the complex reality of the Middle East, where in some countries Christians have even suffered persecution, this Agreement offers a good example of dialogue and cooperation, and I earnestly hope that this may serve as a model for other Arab and Muslim majority countries,” he said.
Palestine’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Riad Al-Malki, said that the agreement “reinforces our bond with new and unprecedented provisions related to the special status of Palestine as the birthplace of Christianity and as the cradle of monolithic religions.”
In recognizing Palestinian statehood, Al-Malki said that the agreement recognizes the right to freedom, dignity and self-determination “in an independent state…free from the shackles of occupation.”
“It also supports the vision for peace and justice in the region in accordance with international law and based on two states, living side by side in peace and security, on the basis of the 1967 borders,” he said.
Concluding his address, Al-Malki conveyed President Mahmoud Abbas’, as well as the State of Palestine’s intentions to abide by the newly signed Agreement.