Vatican summons US and Israeli envoys over West Bank annexation

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The Vatican, in a highly unusual move, summoned both the US and Israeli ambassadors to express the Holy See's concern about Israel's moves to extend its sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

A Vatican statement said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, had meetings with US Ambassador Callista Gingrich and Israeli Ambassador Oren David on Tuesday.

A senior diplomatic source said the cardinal met the two envoys separately, a detail which was not clear in the Vatican statement.

It said Cardinal Parolin expressed "the concern of the Holy See regarding possible unilateral actions that may further jeopardise the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the delicate situation in the Middle East".

Israeli leaders decided in May that cabinet and parliamentary deliberations on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, in co-ordination with Washington, could begin as of July 1.

But with no agreement with Washington yet on the modalities of the move under a peace proposal announced by US President Donald in January, and talks with the White House still under way, no cabinet session was scheduled for Wednesday.

The Vatican statement reiterated its position in support of a two-state solution, saying "Israel and the State of Palestine have the right to exist and to live in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders".

The Vatican appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to do everything possible to reopen the process of direct negotiations on the basis of UN resolutions.

Palestinians seek the West Bank for a future state. In a show of Palestinian unity, some 3,000 people in the Gaza Strip, including members of the mainstream Fatah party and the rival Hamas group that runs the enclave, protested against annexation.

Palestinian protesters take part in a demonstration against Israel's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP

Palestinian protesters shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration against Israel's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP

Palestinian protesters shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration against Israel's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP

A Palestinian youth walks down a hillside overlooking the West Bank city of Jericho. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a map of his plans in September, he pointed to a long blue zone to be annexed, leaving a brown speck in the middle: Jericho. Now the city's farmers in the occupied West Bank fear being marooned on a scrap of Palestinian land if Israel forges ahead with its plans to annex the Jordan Valley. AFP

Palestinian mayor of Jericho Salem Ghrouf speaks during an interview at his office in the West Bank city. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a map of his plans in September, he pointed to a long blue zone to be annexed, leaving a brown speck in the middle: Jericho. Now the city's farmers in the occupied West Bank fear being marooned on a scrap of Palestinian land if Israel forges ahead with its plans to annex the Jordan Valley. AFP

Palestinians pass by on a street of the West Bank city of Jericho. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a map of his plans in September, he pointed to a long blue zone to be annexed, leaving a brown speck in the middle: Jericho. Now the city's farmers in the occupied West Bank fear being marooned on a scrap of Palestinian land if Israel forges ahead with its plans to annex the Jordan Valley. AFP

Israelis hold signs as they protest against the Israeli goverment's plan to annex parts of the West Bank in Tel Aviv, Israel. Getty Images

Israelis hold signs as they protest against Israel goverment's plan to annex parts of the West Bank in Tel Aviv, Israel. Getty Images

An Israeli woman holds a sign as she protest against Israel goverment's plan to annex parts of the West Bank in Tel Aviv, Israel. Getty Images

Protesters, wearing masks of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner Defence Minister Benny Gantz, take part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. AFP

A protester, wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, holds placards during a demonstration in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. AFP

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 23: An Israeli woman holds a sign that reads "Palestine should be free" as she protest against Israel goverment's plan to annex parts of the West Bank in Tel Aviv, Israel. Getty Images

Updated: July 2, 2020 12:19 PM

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