VATICAN CITY: The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" on Friday, calling for "courageous decisions" to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a two-state solution.
The treaty concerned the Catholic Church's activities in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli foreign ministry said it regretted the move, calling the signing of a treaty, which implies there is an official Palestinian state, "a hasty step (that) damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement".
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But Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican's foreign minister, said he hoped the agreement could be a "stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties".
He said he hoped that a peace process directly negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians could resume and lead to a two-state solution.
"This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region," he said.
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The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2012 recognizing Palestine as an observer non-member state. This was welcomed at the time by the Vatican, which has the same observer non-member status at the United Nations.
Since then the Vatican has de facto recognized a "State of Palestine" and Pope Francis referred to it by that name when he visited the Holy Land last year.
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