Days after the Vatican concluded a treaty more formally recognizing the state of Palestine, Pope Francis and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas meet in Vatican City. Gavino Garay reports.
The meeting between the two leaders came at a pivotal time. Pope Francis met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday for the first time since the Holy See recognized the state of Palestine in a treaty concluded on Wednesday. The Vatican's recent treaty makes a more formal recognition of the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and covers the Church's activities in those areas. Palestinian leaders have been trying to put Palestinian statehood to a successful vote at the United Nations. News of the Vatican treaty drew disappointment from Israel's foreign ministry, though the Vatican hopes the deal would help Israeli-Palestinian ties in time. The Holy See has referred to the Palestinian territories as "Palestine" since 2012, followed by Sweden last October, which became the first major European country to acknowledge Palestine as a state. While critics have called Pope Francis' foreign policy provocative, the meeting itself could charter new ties between the Vatican and the Palestinian territories, and usher in new debate over the issue in Europe.