The visit of Pope Francis to Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem this week proved that His Holiness is just as fallible – and gullible - as a host of other world power brokers like US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and the negotiators representing the Quartet – the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and America.
All had plunged into the political mire that constitutes the 130 years old Arab-Israel conflict believing they could resolve it - but ultimately discovered it was destined to become their political graveyard.
The Pope’s descent into the political hell-hole that comprises former Palestine was totally unnecessary.
Regrettably the Pope chose to turn what should have been a purely spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land into a highly contentious political one.
The Pope – in Bethlehem’s Manger Square - addressed the following politically charged words to Mahmoud Abbas - the unelected and unconstitutional self-styled “President” of the “Palestinian Authority” since 2009 – who had unilaterally disbanded it in January 2013 - thereafter proclaiming himself “President of the State of Palestine” – a State that has no legal basis in international law:
Mr President, you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker. Our recent meeting in the Vatican and my presence today in Palestine attest to the good relations existing between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. I trust that these relations can further develop for the good of all.
The Pope’s regrettable statement had clearly breached Clause 11(2) of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel which provides:
The Holy See, while maintaining in every case the right to exercise its moral and spiritual teaching-office, deems it opportune to recall that owing to its own character, it is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifically to disputed territories and unsettled borders.
Can you locate the “State of Palestine” in any world atlas? Where are its borders? What is its area, population, capitol, currency? Who is its Prime Minister?
Bethlehem is disputed territory – claimed by both Arabs and Jews – and since 1948 has not been under the internationally recognized sovereignty of any legally constituted State.
Bethlehem is located in an area where the borders remain unsettled between adjoining neighbours pending the conclusion of negotiations between Israel and the PLO under the parameters of the Oslo Accords, the 2003 Bush Road Map and the 2007 Annapolis Conference.
It apparently matters not that the Pope can ignore the Fundamental Agreement made by the Holy See with Israel when it suits the Pope to do so.
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