Abbas and Pope Francis (archive)
Abbas and Pope Francis (archive)Reuters

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday inaugurated an embassy in the Vatican, the PA-based Ma’an news agency reported on Friday.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis, according to a statement from a spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Earlier this week it was announced that Pope Francis will grant Abbas an audience at the Vatican on Saturday, marking the third time that the Pope has met Abbas.

According to the PLO statement, Abbas’s visit to the Vatican began on Wednesday and will conclude on either Sunday or Monday. In addition to meeting with the Pope for the embassy’s inauguration, Abbas will also meet with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and travel to Paris to meet with French President Francois Hollande, Ma’an reported.

Abbas’s visit takes place at the same time as the Paris peace conference, which is scheduled for Sunday. However, Abbas is not scheduled to attend the conference nor will Israeli representatives be present.

The inauguration of an embassy in the Vatican comes almost four years after the Vatican recognized “Palestine” as a state.

In recent years, several countries in Europe have recognized the state of “Palestine”. Britain was the first country to vote to for recognition in 2015. After Britain, Sweden announced it officially recognized the state of "Palestine".

Portugal's parliament has also adopted a resolution calling on the government to recognize a Palestinian state.

Similar motions passed in France, Ireland, and Spain. These moves are symbolic gestures and have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)