Palestine’s Vatican envoy to Al Arabiya: Two-state solution must be saved

Francesca Astorri
Francesca Astorri
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Issa Jamil Kassissieh, Palestinian Ambassador to the Holy See, has said that he has no doubts that any solution to the Middle East crisis, other than the two-state solution, will not be practical and lead to crisis in the region and the world.

Talking to Al Arabiya at the Palestinian embassy in Via di Porta Angelica, Ambassador Kassissieh said that the one-state solution would result in an apartheid system that would only trigger more extremism and violence in the region.

“We urge the world to save the two-state solution before it is too late. If you want to fight extremism in our region, you have to do two things: first, resolve the conflict in a just way as per the international law and as per resolutions related to the conflict.

Secondly, we have to work more to ensure the democratization of the Middle East region,” Kassissieh said.
In January this year Pope Francisco Bergoglio and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas, met in the Vatican for the inauguration of the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See.

Relations between Palestine and the Church started in 1948 with the opening of Catholic institutions in Jerusalem to help Palestinian refugees, and culminated with the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state and the inauguration of the embassy to the Holy See earlier this year.

This diplomatic initiative is meant to strengthen the two-state solution at a time when it has become more difficult to defend this formula.

In February this year US President, Donald J. Trump, said: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like”. Following this, a large section of the international community felt that decades of negotiations have led to nothing.

As many as 138 countries, 70 percent of the world, recognize Palestine as a sovereign State.

One of the most potent threat to the peace process seems to be related to Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “Moving the US embassy under the current circumstances would be the end of any peace process”, said Kassissieh, who is also Deputy Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD)/PLO-based in Ramallah.

“We hope the US embassy will be moved to Jerusalem once we have a comprehensive agreement with Israel on the recognition of Jerusalem East as the Capital of the State of Palestine” Kassissieh added.

A special formula for the so-called “Old City” should be found, according to Kassissieh, in order to respect the spiritual importance and centrality of Jerusalem for the 3 monotheistic religions.

The dispute around Jerusalem is crucial to the peace process, but the international community seems to be focusing on even more urgent issues.

Israeli authorities continue to build settlements in West Bank violating Security Council Resolution 2334 of 2016.

This Resolution is very explicit: “Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.”

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