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Vatican recognizes Palestine in new treaty

The treaty strengthens Palestine's efforts to be regarded as a state.

By Ed Adamczyk
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Israeli President Shimon Peres watches as Pope Francis (C) and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (R) greet for a joint peace prayer in the gardens of the Vatican on June 8, 2014. The Vatican formally recognized Palestine as a state Wednesday, May 13, 2015 in a treaty, the first legal document negotiated between Palestine and the Holy See. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/b1a024e409fbb1c3bd3e56a03ce89e30/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Israeli President Shimon Peres watches as Pope Francis (C) and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (R) greet for a joint peace prayer in the gardens of the Vatican on June 8, 2014. The Vatican formally recognized Palestine as a state Wednesday, May 13, 2015 in a treaty, the first legal document negotiated between Palestine and the Holy See. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

VATICAN CITY, May 13 (UPI) -- The Vatican formally recognized Palestine as a state Wednesday in a treaty, the first legal document negotiated between Palestine and the Holy See.

The yet-unsigned treaty specifies the Holy See no longer deals with the Palestine Liberation Organization but with the state of Palestine, a symbolic but important formality in Palestine's legitimacy as a nation. The Vatican, whose interests include the safety of many Christian holy sites in Israel and Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, thus joins a number of European countries accepting Palestine as a state.

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The treaty comes after the United Nations General Assembly recognized Palestine as a state, with U.N. non-member observer status, in 2012. Pope Francis has long supported a Palestinian state. The Pope is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this weekend, as two new saints, Blessed Marie-Alphonsine of Bethlehem and Mariam Baouardy, from Ibillin in modern northern Israel, will be canonized Sunday.

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