Palestinian officials voiced concern about possible concessions by the Vatican ahead of talks on Tuesday between Israel and the Holy See on the status of Catholic Church property in Jerusalem.
The Palestinians said a copy of an alleged draft agreement prepared for the talks, which could not be independently verified, reportedly includes an implicit recognition by the Vatican of Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem.
Asked Monday about the meeting, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi would only say that the talks would take place on Tuesday following a previous meeting in Jerusalem in January and gave no further details.
The Vatican is reportedly preparing to accept the application of Israeli law on Catholic Church properties in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians say would be a violation of international law.
Nabil Shaath, a Fatah negotiator for relations with the Holy See, said the Vatican should “reaffirm its historic position in favour of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights in line with international law”.
“We trust that the Holy See will clarify the situation and affirm that it will uphold its legal and moral responsibility,” he said.
The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip also voiced its “serious concern” at the reported draft agreement.
“Holy Islamic and Christian sites will remain Palestinian and Arab and that their control or their administrations will not fall into the hands of the occupier,” Hamas said.
Israel and the Vatican have been holding talks on the legal status of Catholic Church property in the Holy Land since 1999.