(JNS.org) The Vatican on Friday, June 26, signed its first official treaty with what it called the “State of Palestine,” while also urging “courageous decisions” to be made to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The treaty, which was announced in May, covers the Catholic Church’s activities in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. It is the first official treaty signed with regards to the disputed territories since the Vatican’s de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood in 2012. Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher said he hopes the treaty’s signing will be a “stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both parties,” Reuters reported. “This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region,” he said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Vatican’s move hurts the chances for peace “and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinians to returning to the negotiations table for direct talks with Israel. …Israel cannot accept the one-sided assertions in the agreement, which do not take into consideration Israel’s vital interests and the singular, historic status of the Jewish people in Jerusalem.”