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Holy See, Palestine sign comprehensive agreement

June 26, 2015

The Holy See and Palestine have signed a comprehensive agreement on the life and activities of the Church in Palestine.

The agreement, signed at the Apostolic Palace on June 26, takes the place of the “basic agreement” that the two parties had reached in 2000.

“In contrast with the earlier agreement, the present one is being signed by the Holy See and the State of Palestine; this is indicative of the progress made by the Palestinian Authority in recent years, and above all of the level of international support, which culminated in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 29 November 2012, which recognized Palestine as a non-member Observer State at the United Nations,” said Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States.

“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 added. “I also hope that the much desired two-state solution may become a reality as soon as possible.”

Archbishop Gallagher said that he is pleased that “juridical recognition [of the Church] is clearly established and that guarantees have been given for the work of the Catholic Church and her institutions.”

“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 added. “With this in mind, I would like to emphasize the importance of the chapter dedicated to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”

Riyad al-Maliki, Palestine’s foreign affairs minister, said that the agreement’s “provisions span the shared vision of the two parties for peace and justice in the region, the protection of fundamental freedoms, the status and protection of holy sites, and the means of enhancing and furthering the presence and activities of the Roman Catholic Church in the State of Palestine.”

“For the first time, the agreement includes an official recognition by the Holy See of Palestine as a state, in recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, free from the shackles of occupation,” he added. “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.”

The agreement, al-Maliki continued, “embodies our shared values of freedom, dignity, tolerance, co-existence, and equality of all. This comes at a time when extremism, barbaric violence, and ignorance threaten the social fabric and cultural identity of the region and indeed of human heritage. At this backdrop, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to combat extremism, and to promote tolerance, freedom of consciousness and religion, and to equally safeguard the rights of all its citizens.”

The government of Israel released a statement expressing "regret" at the agreement, and saying that it "hurts the chances to reach a peace deal and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table."


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 27, 2015 3:32 AM ET USA

    By definition, the two-state solution requires that each participating state recognize the right of the other state to exist. In "The Historic Compromise: The Palestinian Declaration of Independence and the Twenty-Year Struggle for a Two-State Solution" we find Palestine's acknowledgment of Israel's right to exist: "The Palestinian Declaration of Independence...provided the first official Palestinian endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 26, 2015 7:11 PM ET USA

    How can anyone take this agreement seriously when the Palestinian Constitution still calls for t5he extermination of the state of Israel.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Jun. 26, 2015 4:12 PM ET USA

    Israel has yet to fulfill its obligations to the Vatican in exchange for an agreement made in 1993. The nerve of them to criticize this agreement between the Palestinians and the Vatican!