Last month we saw the headlines proclaiming the “Vatican to Recognise Palestinian State“.
I contacted our author and Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) member, Tricia Miller, to find out what this means and what it could mean for the not too distant future. Although away in Israel at the time, she wrote the following for us:
In the name of working for peace in the Arab/Israeli conflict, Pope Francis took a step last month that will, in reality, make way for war. On May 13, 2015, the Vatican’s official website announced that a formal agreement between “the Holy See and the State of Palestine …has been concluded.” In so doing, the Pope has made any possibility for peace much more difficult to obtain.
The agreement, which is the first legal document between the Vatican and “the State of Palestine,” was 15 years in the making and follows a decision in 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state. Through this action, the Vatican has made it clear that it has switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.
Antoine Camilleri, the Holy See’s deputy foreign minister, said that this document expresses the Vatican’s “hope for a solution to the Palestinian question and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians according to the two-state solution.”
In reality however, what this agreement does is circumvent previously established international conventions for the realization of a two-state solution, which is supposed to come about as a result of direct negotiations between the two parties involved.
According to an an Israeli foreign ministry official, “Such a development does not further the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct bilateral negotiations.” In other words, as international bodies such as the UN General Assembly and the Vatican seek to force the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Palestinians have no motivation to negotiate with the Israelis. As a result, they do not have to make any concessions for peace, but instead only have to wait for their state to be handed to them.
This action on the part of Pope Francis is very troubling for several reasons. The first is that as the supreme authority for the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican’s decisions are more than statements of policy by a governmental body; they are, in fact, official doctrine for all of its churches worldwide.
The second reason this is troubling is that the Vatican is viewed worldwide as a moral and religious authority. As such, this agreement will add credibility to the growing international movement in favor of the declaration of a Palestinian state. This course of action not only removes all need for the Palestinians to negotiate with the Israelis, but it was made in spite of objections on the part of Israel.
And finally, this move is troubling because the Pope appears to believe – in agreement with other international bodies – that if the Palestinians are given a state, there will automatically be peace with Israel. This is a naïve belief at best, as it ignores all recent statements and actions on the part of Abbas and his Fatah Party, whose constitution includes the goal of the eradication the State of Israel through violent means. Article 12 of the Fatah constitution calls for the “complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.” Article 13 states that the goal of Fatah is the establishment of “an independent democratic state with complete sovereignty on all Palestinian lands, and Jerusalem is its capital city.”
Abbas and his government do not just state their intent to have a Palestinian state on all the land; they follow up their words with action. Abbas regularly issues statements of incitement against the State of Israel, and he has declared that a future state of Palestine will be Judenrein, or free of Jews. His government pays salaries to terrorists incarcerated in Israel for committing acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens, and names roads and squares after those who have died in the act of killing innocent women and children.
These are not the actions of a man or a government that intends to live in peace with a neighboring Jewish State. Therefore, all actions on the part of the international community to try to enforce some kind of two state solution without requiring the Palestinians to negotiate directly with Israel only strengthens the Palestinian resolve to make no concessions for peace.
This strategy will not bring a resolution to the Arab/Israeli conflict. It will instead make way for war by emboldening the Palestinians to pursue their goal of the “complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.”