Several interesting articles have just been posted in the Times of Israel
The treaty, which was finalized Wednesday but still has to be signed, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.
The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the UN General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state.
But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and constitutes an official recognition
“Israel will study the agreement and consider its next steps accordingly,” a brief statement from the ministry said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is due to see Pope Francis on Saturday before the canonization of two new saints from the Holy Land a day later.
The text of the treaty “deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine,” a Vatican statement said Wednesday.
“Both Parties agreed that the work of the Commission on the text of the Agreement has been concluded, and that the agreement will be submitted to the respective authorities for approval ahead of setting a date in the near future for the signing.”
The Vatican has been referring unofficially to the state of Palestine for at least a year.
During Pope Francis’ 2014 visit to the Holy Land, the Vatican’s official program referred to Abbas as the president of the “state of Palestine.” In the Vatican’s latest yearbook, the Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See is listed as representing “Palestine (state of).”
The Vatican’s foreign minister, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, acknowledged the change in status, given that the treaty was initially inked with the PLO and is now being finalized with the “state of Palestine.” But he said the shift was simply in line with the Holy See’s position.
The Holy See clearly tried to underplay the development, suggesting that its 2012 press statement welcoming the UN vote constituted its first official recognition. Nowhere in that statement does the Vatican say it recognizes the state of Palestine, and the Holy See couldn’t vote for the UN resolution because it doesn’t have voting rights at the General Assembly.
The Vatican’s efforts to downplay the move seemed justified given the swift condemnation of the development by Israeli groups: The American Jewish Committee said it was “counterproductive to all who seek true peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” The Anti-Defamation League said it was “premature.”
"We appreciate that the Vatican’s basic intention is to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, but believe that this diplomatic recognition will be unhelpful to that end,” the ADL’s Abraham Foxman said.
The Palestinians celebrated the vote as a milestone in their quest for international recognition. Most countries in Africa, Asia and South America have individually recognized Palestine. In Western Europe, Sweden took the step last year, while several parliaments have approved non-binding motions urging recognition.
Gulf nation leaders joined President Barack Obama at the White House Wednesday to warn of the risks of completing a nuclear deal with Iran. Obama was seeking to convince his counterparts of the potential benefits for the region.
But when two days of talks wrap up on Thursday, it’s unlikely much will have changed. The Gulf’s skepticism of Iran is deep-seated and extends far beyond its nuclear pursuits. Obama, meanwhile, has invested too much in the Iran negotiations to let Gulf concerns upend his legacy-building bid for a deal.
“My guess is that the summit is going to leave everybody feeling a little bit unsatisfied,” said Jon Alterman, the Middle East director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The White House is expected to offer the Gulf nations more military assistance, including increased joint exercises and coordination on ballistic missile systems. But Gulf requests for a formal defense treaty already have been denied by the U.S., in part because of the difficulty of getting such an agreement approved by Congress.
The president made no mention of Saudi skepticism of the Iran talks as he opened the meeting, but acknowledged the region is in the midst of a “very challenging time.”
The Lebanese group Hezbollah has built up a massive arsenal of rockets and other advanced weapons in Shi’ite villages of southern Lebanon, a senior Israeli intelligence official said Wednesday, warning civilians would be at risk if war breaks out.
According to the official, Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 short-range rockets capable of striking northern Israel, several thousand missiles that can reach Tel Aviv and central Israel and hundreds more that can strike the entire country.
Most of the weapons have been transferred to Lebanon through war-torn Syria, coming from Hezbollah’s key allies, the Syrian government and Iran, he said.
One photo showed the village of Muhaybib, with a population of around 1,000 people and 90 buildings, of which more than a third had been marked as Hezbollah assets. In the larger village of Shaqra, with some 4,000 people, Israeli intelligence identified Hezbollah targets in around 400 out of some 1,200 buildings.