Vatican Signs First Treaty with ‘State of Palestine’

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Vatican: The Vatican signed its first treaty with the “State of Palestine” last month, calling for “courageous decisions” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and backing a two-state solution. The treaty, which made official the Vatican’s de facto recognition of Palestine since 2012, angered Israel, which called it “a hasty step that damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement.” The accord, which concerns the Catholic Church’s activities in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, also confirmed the Vatican’s increasingly proactive role in foreign policy under Pope Francis. Last year, it brokered the historic resumption of ties between the United States and Cuba. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, said at the signing that he hoped it could be a “stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both parties.” He called for peace negotiations held directly between Israelis and Palestinians to resume and lead to a two-state solution. “This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region,” he said.