The Vatican said the documents disappeared in 1997
Israel slams Vatican's decision to shift its diplomatic language from PLO to 'State of Palestine'

The Vatican on Wednesday announced it upgraded its recognition of Palestine as a state in a new treaty.

While it will be the first time the Roman Catholic Church signs a treaty with the State of Palestine, the Vatican has recognised the state since February 2013. The new agreement between the Holy See and Ramallah saw the shift in Vatican's language ratified in a diplomatic treaty.

Thus, Vatican's diplomatic relations are no longer with the Palestinian Liberation Organization but rather with the state of Palestine.

"The bilateral commission of the Holy See and the State of Palestine, which is working on a comprehensive agreement" on the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine, is putting the final touches to the treaty, the Vatican said.

"The agreement will be submitted to the respective authorities for approval ahead of setting a debate in the near future for the signing."

"The Holy See has identified the State of Palestine as such since the vote" by the UN general assembly to recognise it in November 2012, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP.

"In its annual directory the Palestinian representative is referred to as the representative of the State of Palestine.

Israeli officials roundly condemned the move.

"Israel is disapointed with Vatican's decision, which does not help bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon told the press.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition stressed its desire Wednesday to achieve peace with the Palestinians and other Arab states as he prepared to present his new government.

"The Jewish people have the undisputable right to a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, its national and historic homeland," read the coalition guidelines presented to parliament.

"The government will advance the diplomatic process and strive to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and all our neighbors, while maintaining Israel's security, historical and national interests," they read.

Any such agreement would be submitted to parliament, known as the Knesset, for approval "and if necessary by law, to a referendum."

Netanyahu's new government is set to include ministers intent on expanding Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, an issue that has repeatedly derailed peace talks.

During campaigning for the March 17 election, Netanyahu ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state if reelected.

Netanyahu has since sought to backtrack on those remarks and issued a public apology for warning on election day that Arab Israelis were going to the polls "in droves."

The rest of the government policy outline deals with issues such as reducing the cost of living, improving competition in the Israeli economy, boosting education and protecting the environment.

The guidelines are not inherently different to those published by Netanyahu for his two previous governments, formed in 2009 and 2013.

They were released as parliament was preparing to vote on legislation that would effectively enlarge the cabinet.

Netanyahu, who commands a razor-thin majority of just 61 of the Knesset's 120 seats, would then allocate ministerial and parliamentary positions to members of his Likud party, before presenting his government to parliament for approval.

Commentators expected the vote on the new government to take place on Thursday or Monday.

(With AFP)


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