Palestine Liberation Organization
Negotiations Affairs Department
11 June 2012
Dr. Nabil Shaath: “We Call on the Holy See to Reaffirm its Position in Favor of Palestinian Rights and Defend the Holy Land from Aggressive Israeli Policies”
Dr. Nabil Shaath, Fatah Commissioner for Foreign Relations and member of the Palestinian negotiations team with the Holy See called upon the Holy See to “reaffirm its historic position in favor of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights in line with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions”.
“We are concerned about news reports regarding the agreement to be signed between Israel and the Holy See”, Dr. Shaath said referring to a purported draft agreement between Israel and the Holy See that, among other things, reportedly recognizes Israel’s illegal annexation a control of occupied East Jerusalem. “We trust that the Holy See will clarify the situation and affirm that it will uphold its legal and moral responsibility, as a High Contracting Party to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and ensure that any agreement upholds the Holy See’s position affirming the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and independence on the Territory Israel occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem”, he added
He continued, “The Holy See is part of the international consensus that recognizes the Palestinian Territory, composed of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, as being under Israeli military occupation. As such, any agreement with Israel must not jeopardize or undermine this legal fact nor contribute to Israel’s systematic and illegal policies of undermining the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and prospect of establishing our independent state over the Territory”.
Dr. Shaath reminded, “Israel’s continued illegal policies of colonization and expropriation constitute the single most important threat to peace and continued Christian presence in Palestine, as recognized by the Special Synod for the Middle East in 2010. This grim reality has been reaffirmed repeatedly by Christian organizations around the world, including the signatories to the Kairos Document and the World Council of Churches”. He added, “Israel’s unprecedented illegal settlement activities, which have especially targeted occupied East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, also constitute a threat to the prospects of a peace agreement based on the two-state solution. This is a time where urgent international action is needed to protect the Holy Land and defend our people’s right to a future of peace and dignity”.
Dr. Shaath also reaffirmed Palestine’s continued commitment to relevant international treaties regarding freedom of worship and conscience, which were included in the Basic Agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Holy See in the year 2000.
“Being the Holy Land and the birthplace of Christianity, we are proud of our special responsibility vis-à-vis the Church and the right of Christians around the world to enjoy their right to freedom of worship in Palestine. Biblical cities such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Gaza are all part of our national heritage and an integral component of our national pride. We will continue to uphold our national duty in defending Palestinian Christian, and Muslim holy places,” concluded Dr. Shaath.
A document that is allegedly referred to as the text of draft Agreement between the Holy See and Israel has been circulating around different circles and has been the subject of media reports. The content of the reported document has raised considerable alarm amongst Palestinians.
The alleged draft Agreement contains provisions that explicitly accept the application of Israel’s domestic legislation to sites in occupied East Jerusalem, and recognizee Israel’s exercise of powers and authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in contravention of international law and relevant United Nations Security Council and General Assembly agreements. The reported document also appears to signal a departure of the Holy See’s established policies and legal commitments as a High Contracting Party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
If the reported text is confirmed and signed, this would be the first time that a High Contracting Party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions recognizes Israel’s national legislative, executive and judicial authorities as the competent authorities in occupied East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.