ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - An agreement signed last year by Vatican and Palestinian officials has come into effect, and with it, the Holy See's de facto recognition of the state of Palestine.
The treaty, signed by both parties in June last year, identifies itself as a "comprehensive agreement" with the "State of Palestine." The core of the concord supports an end to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict by means of the infamous "two-state solution."
The "two-state solution" proposes the creation of an independent state of Palestine in addition to the current state of Israel, with both given secure and identifiable borders. Beginning in 1991 there have been several attempts to achieve the two-state solution, with the most recent occurring in 2013–14, but all thus far have failed to meet the demands of both parties.
The current territorial conflict has its origins in the 1948 formation of the state of Israel; it is part of the larger Arab-Israeli conflict, which refers to political and military tensions between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries, as territory claimed by the Jewish people as their ancient homeland is similarly professed by the Arab population as historically belonging to them.
The Vatican's acknowledgment of Palestine's statehood additionally implies support for a United Nations resolution in 2012 that granted Palestine non-member observer status.
Saturday's statement announced that "the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for [the agreement's] entry into force have been fulfilled."
The accord secures protection of the Catholic Church within Palestinian territories, including defending of holy sites and protection of the Church's interests in the area.
"The agreement," reports the Vatican, "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."
Pope Francis has previously advocated for a resolution to the conflict, describing in a 2014 speech made in Bethlehem the right of both Israel and Palestine to exist. In the same speech he described Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as a "man of peace."
Israel is criticizing the move, however, claiming Rome's contract with Palestine is imprudent and could lead to difficulties in future peace talks, in addition to strained relations between Israel and the Holy See. Previous examples of nations acknowledging the existence of a Palestinian state have historically led to tense relations between Israel and the countries in question.