The Pope is set to open a Palestinian embassy at The Vatican this weekend, in what is a hugely significant move by the papacy.
The inauguration of the embassy on Friday, attended by Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, takes place just two days before 70 nations gather in Paris to vote on an anti-Israel decree.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas will also meet with Pope Francis on Saturday. This will be the third time the two have met. When they met last year, Pope Francis referred to Abbas as “an angel of peace”. The Vatican later explained that the reference was mistranslated, and in fact was meant as encouragement for Abbas to pursue peace with Israel.
As head of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas has been accused of inciting violence against Jews. Abbas is also the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which was recognised by Israel and the US as a terror organisation until 1991.
Israel does have an embassy in Vatican City, but the Vatican Embassy in Israel is in Tel Aviv, whilst the Vatican has an “embassy to Palestine” located in East Jerusalem. The Vatican officially recognised a Palestinian State almost two years ago.
— Rɪᴄʜᴀʀᴅ Kᴇᴍᴘ (@COLRICHARDKEMP) January 13, 2017
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki confirmed that Abbas will primarily be raising issue with incoming President-elect Donald Trump, who is set to take office next week, and his proposed plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Just this past Friday, Abbas warned Trump against moving the American embassy, saying that such a move would be crossing a “red line” and could jeopardize peace prospects.
Earlier in the week the PA chairman warned of “serious implications” if the embassy is moved, saying, “Moving the embassy will have serious consequences not only for the Palestinian people, but also for the legitimacy of the entire international struggle against the occupation.”
On Tuesday it was reported that PA leaders had called protests at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest Trump’s plans to move the embassy.
Christians United for Israel (Breaking Israel News / Arutz Sheva sourced)