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IPMN Reflects on the Vatican Recognizing Palestine

The Vatican’s official recognition of the state of Palestine is a step toward Palestinian sovereignty over their land and lives. It is a statement in support of Palestinians’ God-given humanity and their right to exist outside Israeli control.

While it is important for the state of Palestine to have the capacity to engage in legal and diplomatic affairs on the international stage, there are still unfortunately far too many obstacles on the ground for the idea of statehood to have any substantive effects on the Palestinian people. 

Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and its full blockade of the Gaza Strip have destroyed the Palestinian economy and paralyzed the movement of Palestinians within and between these territories. The expansion of Israeli settlements, the construction of an illegal separation wall, and the proliferation of Israeli-only roads within occupied Palestinian territory have further erased not only Palestinian sovereignty but also Palestinian existence from their own land.  Moreover, the 750,000 Palestinians who were forcibly displaced from their land sixty-seven years ago today have still not been allowed by Israel to return to their homeland. And Christian and Muslim Palestinians living within Israel are systematically denied equal rights with Jewish Israelis.

In light of this situation, it is not surprising that Israel’s Foreign Ministry is “disappointed” by the Vatican’s recognition of the state of Palestine. Israel’s response here is yet another indication that the government has no intention of pursuing a two-state solution or any solution where Palestinians and Israelis can coexist as equals.

While the Vatican’s recognition of Palestine is a step in the right direction, we believe that it must also include a demand for the full slate of Palestinians’ human rights, including an end to the occupation, equal rights for Palestinians within Israel, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return home. Indeed, Palestinian civil society, including the Palestinian Christians, have called upon us to work in solidarity with them towards these goals and to hold Israel accountable for its violations of these basic rights.

With steadfast hope, we will continue this work toward these ends until all Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace, justice, and equality.

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