2015-06-26 L’Osservatore Romano
On Friday 26 June 2015, at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Comprehensive Agreement was signed between the Holy See and the State of Palestine.
The accord follows on the Basic Agreement which was signed between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on 15 February 2000 and is the result of the negotiations undertaken by a bilateral working commission over the past number of years.
His Excellency Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, signed for the Holy See and His Excellency Dr. Riad Al-Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs, signed for the State of Palestine.
The following took part in the solemn act:
For the Holy See: His Excellency Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; His Excellency Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio; His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins;
Mgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States; Rev. Fr. Lorenzo Lorusso, O.P., Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Mgr. Alberto Ortega, Official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; Mgr. Paolo Borgia, Official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; and Rev. Fr. Oscar Marzo, O.F.M., member of the Custody of the Holy Land and Official of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
For the State of Palestine: His Excellency Dr. Ramzi Khoury, Advisor to the President, Deputy Head of the Presidential Higher Committee on Church Affairs in Palestine; Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, Representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See; Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs; Mrs. Vera Baboun, Mayor of Bethlehem; Mr. Moussa Abu Hadeed, Mayor of Ramallah; Mr. Ammar Hijazi, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs; Mr. Azem Bishara, Legal Advisor of the PLO; Mr. Ammar Nisnas, Counselor of the Diplomatic Representation of the State of Palestine to the Holy See.
The Agreement is comprised of a Preamble and 32 Articles distributed in 8 Chapters. It deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine, while reaffirming support for a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the situation in the region.
The Agreement shall come into force when both Parties
have notified each other in writing that the constitutional or internal
requirements for the coming into force of the Agreement have been met.
Address given by
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher,
Secretary for Relations with States,
on the signing of the comprehensive agreement
between the State of Palestine and the Holy See
I would like, first and foremost, to welcome you and your Delegation to the Secretariat of State, on the auspicious occasion of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, which marks an important step on the path of good relations which for some time have happily existed between the Parties.
This present Agreement follows on from the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was signed on 15 February 2000. It is the result of the negotiations of a special Bilateral Commission which has worked at various levels over recent years, with dedication and competence, in a most cordial atmosphere.
In contrast with the earlier Agreement, the present one is being signed by the Holy See and the State of Palestine; this is indicative of the progress made by the Palestinian Authority in recent years, and above all of the level of international support, which culminated in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 29 November 2012, which recognized Palestine as a non-member Observer State at the United Nations.
In this context, it is my hope that the present Agreement may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties. I also hope that the much desired two-State solution may become a reality as soon as possible. The peace process can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties, with the support of the international community. This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region.
The Comprehensive Agreement, while constituting an understanding between two subjects of international law, basically concerns the life and activity of the Church in Palestine. In this respect, I am pleased that juridical recognition is clearly established and that guarantees have been given for the work of the Catholic Church and her institutions. Catholics do not seek any privilege other than continued cooperation with their fellow-citizens for the good of society. I am also pleased to say that the local Church, which has been actively involved in the negotiations, is satisfied with the goal attained and is happy to see the strengthening of its good relations with the civil Authorities.
In the complex reality of the Middle East, where in some countries Christians have even suffered persecution, this Agreement offers a good example of dialogue and cooperation, and I earnestly hope that this may serve as a model for other Arab and Muslim majority countries. With this in mind, I would like to emphasize the importance of the chapter dedicated to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.
To conclude, may I once again reaffirm the Holy See’s particular solicitude for the Middle East and for the Holy Land, and its joy at the Agreement that has been reached, which I am hopeful will take effect without delay. Thank you!