Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday opened the state’s first embassy in Vatican city. Abbas, who met Pope Francis during his visit, said that they discussed the impasse Palestine has with Israel over Jerusalem. Abbas said, “We are very grateful about the role that the Holy See has played for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, and for having opened an embassy of Palestine in the Vatican for first time,” said Abbas, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.
The Vatican, which had made its recognition of Palestine official in 2015 with the signing of an agreement, urged for the renewal of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. In a statement, it called for “an end to the violence that causes unacceptable suffering to civilian populations, and to find a just and lasting solution.”
The meeting between Abbas and Pope Francis comes at a time when representatives of 72 nations are planning to revive negotiations on the two-state solution. The Paris peace conference will start from Sunday. Israel has said it will not attend the “rigged meet”, BBC reported. On December 27, Israel had said it will curtail ties with countries that voted for a United Nations resolution condemning the settlements on Palestinian territory.
The inauguration in the Vatican City follows United States President-elect Donald Trump’s statement that US would relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “We are waiting to see if it happens. If it does, it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen,” said Abbas, according to Reuters.
At the core of the dispute is Palestinians’ opposition to Israeli settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem region, which it claims for a future state. Israel, on the other hand, has accused Palestine of perpetrating violence on its territory. Israel said Palestine’s denial of its existence as a Jewish state was a major obstacle in their negotiations.