Palestinian president meets Pope Francis in Vatican
Pope Francis has described Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as “an angel of peace” during a Vatican meeting, just days after the Catholic leadership vowed to recognize Palestine as a state.
The Saturday meeting between the pontiff and Abbas came ahead of a Vatican ceremony to canonize two Palestinian nuns, who will become the first from the Israeli-occupied state to gain sainthood.
The 20-minute meeting followed a Wednesday declaration by the Holy See, saying, it has reached an agreement with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the the Palestinian government over the recognition of Palestine as a state, a move that enraged Tel Aviv.
“Israel heard with disappointment the decision of the Holy See to agree a final formulation of an agreement with the Palestinians including the use of the term ‘Palestinian State,'” said an Israeli foreign ministry official.
Pope Francis (L) speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting on May 16, 2015 in Vatican. (AFP)
“Such a development does not further the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct bilateral negotiations. Israel will study the agreement and consider its next step,” he further claimed.
Vatican’s Deputy Foreign Minister Antoine Camilleri said in an interview earlier this week that the agreement on Palestine, 15 years in the making, reflects the Holy See’s “hope for a solution to the Palestinian question and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians according to the Two-State Solution.”
During the interview with the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Camilleri further expressed optimism that “the accord could, even in an indirect way, help the Palestinians in the establishment and recognition of an independent, sovereign, and democratic State of Palestine.”
During the Vatican meeting, Abbas and the Pope exchanged views over the treaty, whose details have not yet been fully disclosed.
The Vatican further stated on Wednesday that a bilateral commission is putting the final touches to the agreement, which “will be submitted to the respective authorities for approval ahead of setting a debate in the near future for the signing”.