Vatican to officially recognize Palestinian statehood in new treaty

Story highlights

  • New treaty is thought to mark the first time the Holy See has formally recognized Palestinian statehood in a legal document
  • Wednesday's announcement seems sure to polish the Pope's image as a one-man United Nations

(CNN)The Vatican announced Wednesday that it had brokered a treaty with the "state of Palestine," upsetting Israeli advocates and propelling Pope Francis into the heart of yet another geopolitical fray.

The treaty is expected to be signed "in the near future," the Vatican said. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is scheduled to visit Pope Francis on Saturday, the day before the church canonizes two Palestinian nuns.
The treaty is thought to mark the first time the Holy See has formally recognized Palestinian statehood in a legal document. Vatican policy, however, has long held that a two-state solution is the best road to peace in the Holy Land. The Vatican has referred to Palestine as a state since November 2012, when the United Nations voted to recognize it as a nonmember observer state, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, told CNN. At the time, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI led the Catholic Church.
    "Therefore there is a coherent continuity," Lombardi continued in an email. "Obviously this is an international agreement with the State of Palestine and this reaffirms the recognition."