The recent Vatican announcement that it will soon sign a comprehensive treaty to recognize Palestine as a state is an important development and signals a shift in policy not only for the Holy See but also reflects a movement across the world to embrace a new approach. In the Annuario Poniticio, the official Vatican yearbook, the “State of Palestine” has been used since 2012 in references pertaining to the Occupied Territories but the upcoming treaty will give an official imprint to it. The impending treaty would be between the Vatican and the State of Palestine reflecting an increasing level of support for Palestinian aspirations of freedom and independence around the world. While the conditions of Palestinians under occupation will not immediately change; nevertheless, the diplomatic recognition by the Catholic Church carries significant political weight and will have far reaching consequences in Catholic majority countries, which will have a spillover effect to other regions in the world.
Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican undersecretary for relations with states and the head of the Vatican delegation at the negotiations with the Palestinians, said he hoped that the treaty would encourage “the international community, especially the parties most directly interested, in undertaking more decisive action to contribute to reaching a lasting peace and the hoped-for solution of two states.” The Vatican’s recognition comes almost one year after Pope Francis’s visit to Occupied Palestine and at the time making sure to fly directly from Jordan to the West Bank, a significant and subtle move that did not go unnoticed by observers of past papal visits to the area. From the Vatican’s perspective, the treaty is intended to develop a framework that addresses long-standing church engagement in Palestine including a sizable Palestinian-Christian population, which has been affected by the ongoing occupation and constant decline in their numbers. Also, Msgr. Camilleri spoke of the treaty addressing issues related to the freedom of religion and conscience, which would be an important contribution in cementing Muslim-Christian relations at a time of greater concern across the region.Certainly, the Vatican’s action follows in the footsteps of Norway, which has already recognized the State of Palestine and other European Parliaments who voted to urge their government to take similar steps. The developments across the world should be correctly interpreted as a rebuke of the existing and failed U.S. sponsored “peace process” and an emergent consensus around the globe that a different approach is needed. Under the U.S. sponsored 22-year-old “peace process,” Palestinians have witnessed the total swallowing of vast lands in the West Bank, massive settlement building, increase of settlers from around 130,000 to upward of 560,000, separating communities through the building of the apartheid wall and disruption to the local economy. In addition, the recent Israeli elections that brought the “real” Benyamin Netanyahu out to the world with his racist campaigning, abandonment of a two-state solution and the setting-up of a new government beholden to settlers and the extreme right wing.
Netanyahu, in a short period of time, has managed to do more to undermine and harm Israel’s standing than any Israeli politician has done and he has some impressive competition for this title. Netanyahu’s record includes political duplicity, a bullying attitude toward the U.S. president, vice president and various secretary of states, a failed attack on Gaza, which shifted the strategic math on the ground, corruption scandals, failed economic and social policies and presiding over and encouraging racist discourse toward black immigrants and Ethiopians. The rising support for the State of Palestine is directly related to people and governments reaching the conclusion that the time has come to embrace Palestinian aspirations for freedom and dignity as well as begin a steady campaign directed at ending the occupation.
The Vatican’s recognition is significant and points to the fact that the status quo is no longer on Israel’s side and its international standing has eroded since the recent assault on Gaza. If examined correctly and coupled with the global success of the BDS movement then, for sure, the tide has shifted and Israel’s Hasbara efforts and money thrown to muzzle the opposition is not sufficient to remedy the damaged brand. Israel’s arrogance has no remedy and the cracks in Zionism’s Teflon armor is apparent to all except the emperor, Netanyahu, and his cabinet, who have no moral or ethical clothes to cover it.