(JTA) – The Vatican will officially recognize Palestinian statehood in an agreed-upon treaty.
The recognition came Wednesday in an announcement that the Vatican had finalized a treaty with the “State of Palestine.” Previously, the Vatican conducted its diplomatic relations through the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The treaty must still be approved by officials on both sides and then signed, according to a joint statement posted on the Vatican’s website.
The treaty discusses the Vatican’s interests in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, including churches in the territories, taxes on church charities, and cultural and diplomatic issues, the New York Times reported, citing Hanna Amireh, head of a Palestinian committee on church affairs, and a member of the PLO’s executive committee.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told the Times of Israel, “We’re disappointed by the decision taken by the Holy See. We believe that such a decision is not conducive to bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.”
“Israel will study the agreement and consider its next steps accordingly,” said a statement issued by the ministry.
During his tenure Pope Francis has indicated his desire for the establishment of a Palestinian state. He visited Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank in 2014, and later hosted the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the Vatican, where they held a prayer for peace.