The Vatican announced on Saturday that the “Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine”, signed in June, has taken full effect. This comes over two years after the Roman Catholic Church recognized the Palestinian territories as a sovereign state in February 2013.
The accord covers the operation of the Church in areas of Israel under Palestinian control but many have said its significance is symbolic of growing international support for a Palestinian state.
“With reference to the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, signed on 26 June 2015, the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its entry into force have been fulfilled,” a Vatican statement said.
“The agreement…regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.”
Israel objected to the accord, saying it was premature and counterproductive to efforts to get the Palestinians to resume direct peace negotiations with the Jewish state.
The Vatican has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993 but has yet to conclude an agreement on Christian rights there. Negotiations on the subject have been running since 1999 but have repeatedly run into deadlock over the status of Jerusalem.