A high-ranking Palestinian delegation is heading to the Vatican to hold talks with the Holy See on the legal status of property owned by the Catholic Church in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
According to a statement from the Palestinian President's office, the delegation includes Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malky, the PLO's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and a number of senior officials. The visit is intended to obtain affirmation of the Catholic Church's historic stance on Palestinian rights and Israel's occupation of pre-1967 land, including East Jerusalem.
It was reported recently that the Holy See is to sign an agreement with the Israelis which implies the Vatican's recognition of the illegal status that the Occupation Authorities have imposed on Catholic Church properties in Jerusalem since 1967.
"The Holy See has told us that the upcoming agreement does not include the properties of the Catholic Church or those of any of the institutions affiliated with it in East Jerusalem," said President Abbas's statement. "We were told that the agreement in question will not be signed this month as there are points of disagreement within it."