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Palestine state here to stay. Is Israel listening?

Both sides must give up a little to get more -- concessions should never be off the table.

Published: Sun 28 Jun 2015, 10:10 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:51 PM

The Vatican's agreement with the ‘State of Palestine’ has Israel running for diplomatic cover. Pope Francis is charting a new path for peace, while recognising Palestine as a state that is here to stay. At the same time, he’s piling pressure on the Benjamin Netanyahu government to pull back from territory it has illegally occupied and talk directly to the Mahmoud Abbas government.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, hoped the accord with the ‘State of Palestine’ would be a "stimulus" to bring an end to the protracted conflict, which continues to bring suffering to both parties.

Leaders like Pope Francis realise that the Middle East will stay volatile if Israelis and Palestinians are unwilling to make concessions. There’s renewed urgency for them to sort out their differences face to face, but Tel Aviv called Friday’s agreement between the Palestine Authority and the Vatican a ‘’hasty move’’ that would damage the prospects for a peaceful agreement.

The Vatican has since 2012 been referring to Palestinian-controlled regions as the ‘State of Palestine’, while other countries preferred to walk a fine line for fear of retribution from Israel. This direct approach to finding a solution to the problem comes amid many failures by so-called honest brokers like the US, and the Middle East envoys like Tony Blair to strike a deal between the two opposing sides. For the Holy See, this is a call to justice for the dispossessed, for those suffering under illegal occupation; for the poor, the orphaned and widows of war.

Israel and the Palestine Authority are being prodded to talk directly to each other. But for that to happen, Israel must be reminded that it has gone to far with its policy of settlements that encroach into Palestinian areas. Both sides must give up a little to get more – concessions should never be off the table. But all this will be futile if there is no conscience for the Palestinians who are crying freedom. Is Israel listening?

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