Vatican, Rome
Vatican, RomeSerge Attal/Flash 90

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 over parts of Judea and Samaria, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

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

A senior diplomatic source told Reuters that Parolin met the two envoys separately, a detail which was not clear in the Vatican statement.

It said Parolin, the Vatican’s top diplomat, expressed “the concern of the Holy See regarding possible unilateral actions that may further jeopardize the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the delicate situation in the Middle East.”

According to the coalition agreement between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, the sovereignty move could have taken place on Wednesday, but no agreement has yet been reached with Washington yet on the modalities of the move under the peace proposal announced by US President Donald Trump in January.

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 recognized 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.

Netanyahu met on Tuesday with US Ambassador David Friedman and special Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz. Following the meeting, the Prime Minister said, "I spoke with American Envoy Avi Berkowitz and Ambassador David Friedman on the issue of sovereignty. This is a matter which we are working on and which we will continue to work on in the coming days.”

On Monday, Netanyahu hinted to members of the Likud that the application of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria would not be implemented on July 1, explaining that it would be a complex move which requires many political and security considerations.

Wednesday’s statement is not the first time that the Vatican has expressed opposition to sovereignty. In May, it said Israel's sovereignty move is concerning and could further compromise peace talks.

The Pope has spoken out in the past on the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict and called for the implementation of a “two-state solution” to solve the decades old conflict.

The Vatican recognized “Palestine” as a state in 2013. In 2017, the Palestinian Authority (PA) opened an “embassy” in the Vatican. This occurred after an accord between the Holy See and the PA on the establishment of an “embassy” took effect.