Palestinian Authority has opened an embassy at the Vatican on the eve of a peace conference meant to revive long-stalled talks with Israel.
Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Saturday to open a Palestinian embassy in Vatican City.
“We are very grateful about the role that the Holy See has played for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, and for having opened an embassy of Palestine in the Vatican for first time,” Abbas said, Palestinian media reported.
“This embassy is a place of pride for us and we hope that all of the countries of the world recognize the state of Palestine, because this recognition will bring us closer to the peace process,” Abbas added.
Israel has yet to respond to the news.
Vatican policy has long held that a two-state solution is the best road to peace in the Holy Land and Pope Francis has increasingly spoken on behalf of the Palestinian people, encouraging both sides to reach a deal that creates a Palestinian state recognized by Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas is headed to Paris next, where he will participate in a 70-member conference on Middle East peace hosted by the French government.
The Vatican had referred to Palestine as a state since November 2012. The opening of an embassy confers a new level of legitimacy on Palestine state.