The PLO-Vatican Agreement
(February 15, 2000)
The Holy See, the Sovereign Authority of the Catholic Church, and the
Palestine Liberation Organization (hereinafter: PLO), the Representative
of the Palestinian People working for the benefit and on behalf of the
Deeply aware of the special significance of the Holy Land, which is
inter alia a privileged space for inter-religious dialogue between the
followers of the three monotheistic religions;
Having reviewed the history and development of the relations between
the Holy See and the Palestinian people, including the working contacts
and the subsequent establishmenton October 26, 1994of official
relations between the Holy See and the PLO;
Recalling and confirming the establishment of the Bilateral Permanent
Working Commission to identify, study and address issues of common interest
between the two Parties;
Reaffirming the need to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the
Middle East, so that all its nations live as good neighbors and work
together to achieve development and prosperity for the entire region
and all its inhabitants;
Calling for a peaceful solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
which would realize the inalienable national legitimate rights and aspirations
of the Palestinian people, to be reached through negotiation and agreement,
in order to ensure peace and security for all peoples of the region
on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations and its Security
Council resolutions, justice and equity;
Declaring that an equitable solution for the issue of Jerusalem, based
on international resolutions, is fundamental for a just and lasting
peace in the Middle East, and that unilateral decisions and actions
altering the specific character and status of Jerusalem are morally
and legally unacceptable;
Calling, therefore, for a special statute for Jerusalem, internationally
guaranteed, which should safeguard the following: a. Freedom of religion
and conscience for all b. The equality before the law of the three monotheistic
religions and their institutions and followers in the City; c. The proper
identity and sacred character of the City and its universally significant,
religious and cultural heritage; d. The Holy Places, the freedom of
access to them and of worship in them. e. The Regime of "Status
Quo" in those Holy Places where it applies;
Recognizing that Palestinians irrespective of their religious affiliation
are equal members of Palestinian society;
Concluding that the achievements of the aforementioned Bilateral Permanent
Working Commission now amount to appropriate matter for a first and
Basic Agreement, which should provide a solid and lasting foundation
for the continued development of their present and future relations,
and for the furtherance of the Commission's on-going task,
Agree on the following Articles:
The PLO affirms its permanent commitment to uphold and observe the human
right to freedom of religion and conscience, as stated in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and in other international instruments relative
to its application.
The Holy See affirms the commitment of the Catholic Church to support
this right and states once more the respect that the Catholic Church
has for the followers of other religions.
The Parties are committed to appropriate cooperation in promoting respect
for human rights, individual and collective, in combating all forms
of discrimination and threats to human life and dignity, as well as
to the promotion of understanding and harmony between nations and communities.
The Parties will continue to encourage inter-religious dialogue for
the promotion of better understanding between people of different religions.
The PLO will ensure and protect in Palestinian Law the equality of human
and civil rights of all citizens, including specifically, inter alia,
their freedom from discrimination, individually or collectively, on
the ground of religious affiliation, belief or practice.
The regime of the "Status Quo" will be maintained and observed
in those Christian Holy Places where it applies.
The PLO recognizes the freedom of the Catholic Church to exercise her
rights to carry out, through the necessary means, her functions and
traditions, such as those that are spiritual, religious, moral, charitable,
educational and cultural.
The PLO recognizes the rights of the Catholic Church in economic, legal
and fiscal matters: these rights being exercised in harmony with the
rights of the Palestinian authorities in these fields.
Full effect will be given in Palestinian Law to the legal personality
of the Catholic Church and of the canonical legal persons.
The provisions of this Agreement are without prejudice to any agreement
hitherto in force between either Party and any other party.
The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission, in accordance with such
instructions as may be given by the respective Authorities of the two
Parties, may propose further ways to address items of this Agreement.
Should any controversy arise regarding the interpretation or the application
of provisions of the present Agreement, the Parties will resolve it
by way of mutual consultation.
Done in two original copies in the English and Arabic languages, both
texts being equally authentic. In case of divergency, the English text
This Agreement shall enter into force from the moment of its signature
by the two Parties
Quarterly, (Issue 8, 2000)