by: Ilse Posselt
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 | Over the weekend, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), will head to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis on Saturday afternoon.
The weekend’s get-together marks the third encounter between the head of the Catholic Church and the PA president. Abbas and the pope met for the first time three years ago during the pontiff’s trip to Israel. The second meeting occurred in 2015 when the Palestinian leader visited the Vatican to attend the canonization ceremony for two Palestinian nuns.
Relations between the Palestinian people and the Holy See were strengthened in 2013 when the Vatican officially recognized a Palestinian state. Two years later saw another upgrade in relations with the signing of an accord that is bound to result in the establishment of a Palestinian embassy in the Vatican as early as this year.
Israel criticized the accord and relations between the Palestinian Authority and the Holy See and relations with Israel were strained even further when the pope described Abbas as an “angel of peace” during the PA president’s 2015 visit.
The Vatican later tried to explain the statement arguing that the reference was mistranslated and that the pope merely meant to encourage Abbas to be an “angel of peace” and pursue reconciliation with Israel.
Saturday’s meeting comes at a particularly pivotal time. According to Israel National News, the motivation for the get-together was probably the Palestinian leaders’ concern over President-elect, Donald Trump, possibly moving the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus signaling that the US acknowledges the City of Gold as Israel’s capital.
Last week, Abbas warned Trump against such a move, saying that it would be a “red line” that could jeopardize peace in the entire region. The PA president also sent a letter to Trump as well as to a number of other leaders to curry support against the move.
Moreover, the meeting between Abbas and the pope also takes place on the eve of the infamous Paris peace conference. Some 70 countries are expected to attend the international forum to discuss the situation and way forward for Israel and the Palestinians. The Jewish state fears that it will be used as a podium to push an external agenda for peace instead of seeking a solution through bilateral negotiations without pre-conditions.
Posted on January 11, 2017
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 11 January 2017)
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/wikipedia
Photo License: Wikipedia
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