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Vatican Accord Recognizing De Facto Palestinian State Takes Effect

Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher, right, and his Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, shake hands after signing a treaty — covering church operations in parts of the Holy Land under Palestinian control — at the Vatican, June 26, 2015.

The Vatican says its first treaty with Palestinians has come into force, more than two years after the Roman Catholic Church drew criticism from Israel for recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state.

The accord, which technically covers church operations in parts of the Holy Land under Palestinian control, was signed in June 2015. It also reaffirms support for a negotiated two-state solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A statement Saturday said the Holy See and what it recognizes as the state of Palestine had notified each other that all necessary procedural steps were completed and that the treaty was in effect.

More than 130 other nations have also recognized a Palestinian state, backing a 2012 U.N. General Assembly resolution that recognizes it as an observer, nonmember state.

Israel and the United States oppose such recognition, with Israel calling the pact premature and counterproductive.

Both governments have insisted that the only way to end the deadly conflict is through negotiations, which have not progressed in years.