RAMALLAH, January 12, 2017 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled Saturday to meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican and inaugurate the new Palestinian embassy, Palestine’s ambassador to the Holy See, Issa Kassissieh, said on Thursday.
He told WAFA that Abbas will start an official visit to Italy on Friday where he will meet with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni before having an audience with the Pope on Saturday followed by the official inauguration of the embassy.
Kassissieh hailed the inauguration of the new embassy as “a significant achievement for the Palestinian people, considering that the Pope has taken a moral, legal and political stand through recognizing the state of Palestine along the pre-1967 borders.”
He added that the embassy inauguration marks the outcome of the upgrading of relations between Palestine and the Holy See in 2015 with the signing of an accord, which includes terms related to supporting housing projects for young Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Abbas’ inauguration of the embassy will come against the backdrop of deep Palestinian concerns over US President-elect Donald Trump’s declared intention to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Abbas’ meeting with Pope Francis on Saturday will take place on the eve of an international peace conference in Paris at which some 70 countries are due to lay out a plan to end Israel’s occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state on the June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Kassissieh said he hopes European countries will follow the Vatican’s suit in order to achieve a just solution to all parties and support the two-state solution.