A Comprehensive Agreement was signed between the Holy See and the State of Palestine on Friday 26 June, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The accord follows on the Basic Agreement which was signed between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on 15 February 2000 and is the result of the negotiations undertaken by a bilateral working commission over the past years.
Archbishop Paul R Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, signed on behalf of the Holy See and Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs, signed for the State of Palestine.
The other participants in the ceremony were:
For the Holy See: Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio; His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins; Mgr Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States; Fr Lorenzo Lorusso, OP, under-secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Mgr Alberto Ortega, official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; Mgr Paolo Borgia, official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; and Fr Oscar Marzo, OFM, member of the Custody of the Holy Land and Official of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
For the State of Palestine: Ramzi Khoury, advisor to the president and deputy head of the Presidential Higher Committee on Church Affairs in Palestine; Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See; Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, assistant foreign minister for Multilateral Affairs; Vera Baboun, mayor of Bethlehem; Moussa Abu Hadeed, mayor of Ramallah; Ammar Hijazi, deputy assistant foreign minister for Multilateral Affairs; Azem Bishara, legal advisor of the PLO; Ammar Nisnas, counsellor of the diplomatic representation of the State of Palestine to the Holy See.
The Agreement is comprised of a preamble and 32 articles distributed in eight chapters. It deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine, while reaffirming support for a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the situation in the region. It will come into effect when both Parties have notified each other in writing that the relevant constitutional or internal requirements have been met.