The Slatest

Vatican Recognizes Palestinian State

Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican Gardens in June 2014.

Franco Origlia/Getty

In a move that Pope Francis has foreshadowed over the course of the past year, the Vatican announced Wednesday that it has finalized a treaty with Palestine that recognizes the latter’s statehood. From the AP:

The treaty, which concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.

The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. 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 official diplomatic recognition.

The Vatican had previously referred to Palestine as a state in two public documents. More than 130 countries recognize Palestine; those that don’t include the United States and most of the countries in Western Europe.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to attend a canonization in Vatican City on Sunday.