15 years after its conclusion, the historic agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, signed last 26 June, has come into force. The news has been communicated by the Vatican itself, which stressed that the two states “have notified each other about having completed the procedures required for its coming into force”.
The agreement has been reached 15 years after the basic agreement between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was signed on 15 February 2000. The latter was the starting point of the negotiations. The agreement, consisting of a preamble and 32 articles, “concerns essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine and reaffirms, at the same time, support for a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the conflict in this region,” the Vatican recalled.
Also the part which concerns the protection of the holy places from the regime of the “status quo” is important. Besides, to the local Church which has been an active part in the diplomatic negotiations that have led to the Agreement, was recognized the right to work in the areas of education and assistance, as well as social and communicative fields. Among the next steps, there may be the opening of an Embassy of the State of Palestine in the Vatican. It has been announced these last months by the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki. This is a perspective, however, which might create new tensions with Israel. The latter criticized harshly the Holy See’ recognition – through the signature of an official document which has legal value – of the state of Palestine.
The text of the agreement, which is now in force, expresses “hope for a solution to the Palestinian question and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the context of the Two-State Solution”, the Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for the Relations with the States, had explained to Osservatore Romano shortly before the signing of the Agreement. It would be “positive – the head of the Vatican delegation had explained – if the reached agreement helped the Palestinians to see established and recognized an independent, sovereign, and democratic State of Palestine, able to live in peace and security with Israel and its neighbors, encouraging, at the same time, the international community, especially the parties that are directly involved, to take stronger action to contribute to the achievement of lasting peace and to the hoped-for two-state solution”.
The search of a solution to the conflict in the region has been also the subject of the prayer of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mons. Fouad Twal, yesterday, during his first mass of the year 2016: “In the year that starts today, we will continue to pray for peace in our land, so that Israelis and Palestinians can abandon the ways of violence and take the road which leads to peace. The Lord, when the moment arrives, will grant us peace and reconciliation”.