With two weeks left before Pope Benedict XVI’s scheduled trip to Israel, set to take place May 11 to 15, the Vatican has announced it has signed a deal with the Arab League outlining cooperation aimed at promoting “peace, security and stability.”
Vatican senior diplomat Dominique Mamberti and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa signed the agreement.
However, what the Vatican did not mention in its press statement was the League of Arab States remains in a formal and active state of war with Israel.
The league declared a war to destroy the nascent state of Israel on the day that Israel declared its independence following the end of the British Mandate, on May 14, 1948. A spokesman for the Washington office of the Arab League confirms the international organization has never rescinded that state of war.
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In March 2002, the league announced its first peace plan by making peace with Israel conditional on a full Israeli withdrawal to the territory it held prior to 1967, the expulsion of Jews from the Old City of Jerusalem and Israel’s recognition of the Arab refugees’ rights to the homes and villages that they left in 1948 war.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last week Israel views the league’s plan as a prescription for its destruction.
In that context, a source in the Israel Foreign Ministry says that Israel has little to rejoice from the Vatican signing a new agreement with the Arab League, because the league remains committed to its 61-year-old war to destroy Israel.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org