Pope tells Abbas of Vatican’s hope for Palestinian State


Palestinian Authority president touring Europe, thanking countries that supported a de facto recognition of a Palestinian state in the U.N. General Assembly.

Abbas also met with Italian PM Mario Monti, who also expressed support for a Palestinian state.

By Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


Pope Benedict XVI told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday the Vatican hoped the recent de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations would spur the international community to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Pope Benedict held private talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for about 25 minutes in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Monday. – Photo: Reuters

Abbas, who is on a tour of Europe to thank countries that supported the Nov. 29 resolution by the U.N. General Assembly recognizing Palestine, held private talks with the pope for about 25 minutes in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

“It is hoped that [the resolution] will encourage the commitment of the international community to finding a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming negotiations between the parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both,” a Vatican statement said.

The 193-nation General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the U.N. from “entity” to “nonmember state,” the same status as the Vatican.

The Vatican welcomed the resolution, which amounts to an implicit recognition of a Palestinian state. But the Holy See also renewed its call for an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem, something that Israel rejects.

The Vatican said the pope and Abbas also discussed the “situation in the region, troubled by numerous conflicts,” which was seen as a clear reference to the civil war in Syria.

Abbas later met Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who expressed the Italian government’s support for the construction of a Palestinian state, his office said in a statement.

Abbas was also due to meet Pier Luigi Bersani, the head of the Democratic Party, which is widely expected to win national elections early next year.

Italy’s Center-Left has traditionally supported Palestinians while the Center-Right has been closer to Israel.

View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=6763