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Vatican refuses to let Israel see details of agreement signed with Palestinians

Senior Israeli official says diplomats attempted review text of accord four times, but were declined each time

The Vatican has rejected requests by Israeli diplomats to obtain the text of an accord signed between Vatican and ”Palestine” two weeks ago, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

Israeli diplomats attempted to review the text on four separate occasions, but the Vatican declined to give details about the content of the agreement, a senior Israeli official told the newspaper.

The Vatican signed the historic first accord with ”Palestine” on June 26, two years after officially recognizing it as a state.

The accord, a treaty covering the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, was the first since the Vatican recognized the Palestinian state in February 2013.

According to Haaretz, the Israeli Foreign Ministry was concerned that the treaty between the Vatican and the Palestinians contradicted a similar treaty that already exists between the Vatican and Israel.

“The people from the Catholic Church claimed that once the treaty was ratified by both the Vatican and the Palestinians it would become public and then we could receive a copy,” the Israeli official told Haaretz. “They would not reply to any specific questions from us and simply repeated that we have nothing to worry about because the agreement with the Palestinians does not contradict the agreement with Israel.”

The treaty, which took 15 years of negotiations to complete, was agreed in principle last month and bitterly condemned by Israel as a setback for the peace process.

The Vatican’s recognition of the state of Palestine followed a November 12 vote in favor of recognition by the UN General Assembly.

Vatican officials have described it as reflecting the Church’s desire to see the conflict in the Holy Land resolved by a ”two-state” solution.

”The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its regret regarding the Vatican decision to officially recognize the Palestinian Authority as a state,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in response, ”This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement.”

”We also regret the one-sided texts in the agreement which ignore the historic rights of the Jewish people in Israel,” Nahshon added. ”Israel cannot accept the unilateral determinations in the agreement which do not take into account Israel’s essential interests and the special historic status of the Jewish people in Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian Authority considers the Vatican one of 136 countries to have recognized Palestine as a state, although the number is disputed and several recognitions by what are now European Union member states date back to the Soviet era.

The Vatican has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993 but has yet to conclude an accord on the Church’s rights in the Jewish state which has been under discussion since 1999.

(With AFP)

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