CMEP Bulletin: Vatican to Sign Treaty with State of Palestine
US Wants the New Israeli Government and Palestinians to Work For the Two State Solution
Different views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were reflected in US and Israeli statements on Wednesday, May 13. The new Israeli government issued a statement saying “the government will advance the diplomatic process and will strive for a peace agreement with the Palestinians and with all of our neighbors.” President Obama issued a statement the same day saying, “we look to the new Israeli government and the Palestinians to demonstrate-through policies and actions – a genuine commitment to a two-state solution.”
Vatican Recognizes Palestine
Also on Wednesday a Vatican spokesman said that it will soon sign a treaty with the Palestinian State. “Yes, it’s a recognition the state exists”, he said. The Vatican had welcomed a decision by the UN General Assembly in 2012 to recognize the Palestinian state. The announcement drew both praise and criticism.
Husam Zolot, senior Palestinian foreign affairs offical said, “the Vatican is not just a state. The Vatican represents hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide, including Palestinians, and has vast moral significance.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Emmanuel Nahshon comments, “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.” Despite the criticisms, “Pope Francis is extremely friendly to Israel and certainly to Jews, and Israel will not withdraw its ambassador. It might express disappointment, but it will not affect the relationship,” said Yosef Lamdan former Israeli ambassador to the Vatican.
When considering the possible implications on the peace process, Middle East director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Daniel Levy belives that there would be “no practical implication” on the peace process, although the treaty does hold moral weight. “The question is what happens the morning after recognition? Do those who recognize Palestine in any way have to recalibrate their bilateral relations with Israel? So far that has not been the case, and I don’t think that will be the case with the Vatican either,” said Levy.
House Demolitions in East Jerusalem
Despite having built on privately owned land and a “halt demolition” order by the Israeli court in Jerusalem, Akram Abu Shalbak’s four story building was demolished by the Israeli Muncipality of Jerusalem because he had not obtained a building permit.
Like Abu Shalbak, many Palestinians who do not have building permits live under the constant threat of having their homes demolished by the Israeli authorities. In 2014, approximately 51 homes were demolished, leaving a total of 167 people homeless. Some of these Palestinians like Abu Shalbak have been living on their privately owned land, many for generations, but most of this land is unrecognized by Israel since East Jerusalem was annexed in 1967.