Why Is the Pope Provoking War in Israel?

For hundreds of years, the Vatican created rivers of blood trying to seize control of the Holy Land from Muslims. Today the Vatican apparently endorses Palestinian sovereignty. Why?

Pope Francis is a man on a mission. But what is his mission exactly? The rhetoric and body language, the gracious gestures, the smiles and salutations give the impression of a selfless liberator determined to broker peace, cooperation and tranquility.

But take a closer look at his decisions and actions. In actuality, the Vatican is creating tension, disunity and instability that are likely to lead to conflict and war.

The pope’s recent stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict is a perfect example.

Recognizing ‘Palestine’

On May 13, the Vatican announced that it had formally recognized the “state of Palestine” in a newly finalized treaty with the Palestinians. (Pope Francis and the Vatican had previously supported the “state of Palestine,” but never formally like this). The treaty defined the Catholic Church’s activities in areas controlled by the Palestinians and was signed by both sides on May 16, when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Vatican.

During Abbas’s visit, the pope effectively gave his approval of all the acts of terror committed by the Palestinian leader and his followers, even telling the Palestinian terrorist leader, “You are an angel of peace,” according to the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

Critics of Israel and backers of Palestinian statehood were elated by the Vatican’s announcement. The movement to recognize a Palestinian state has gained momentum in recent years, particularly within the United Nations, and this endorsement from the Vatican is huge. Gaining the support of humanity’s most respected and admired leader could be just the boost needed to get the project of Palestinian statehood over the finish line.

For the Jewish state and its declining number of supporters, the Vatican’s decision was an enormous blow. “This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations,” Israel’s foreign minister said in a text message to the Associated Press.

Indeed. In return for its vital support of Palestinian statehood, the Vatican required absolutely nothing from the Palestinians. There was no requirement of the Palestinian Authority to sincerely engage in peace talks with Israel, no demand that it recognize Israel’s right to exist, and no demand that it sever its connection with Hamas and publicly renounce Hamas’s ambitions. Nothing. As Melanie Phillips noted in the Jerusalem Post on May 14, the Vatican’s recognition “tears up the Palestinians’ own treaty obligations under the Oslo Accords,” and thus “has now openly made Catholics complicit with reneging on promises and shattering bonds of trust.”

“[T]he one thing we can be sure it won’t do is to improve the chances for peace,” explained Jonathon Tobin, senior online editor for Commentary magazine. “By granting the Palestinians official recognition without first requiring them to make peace with Israel, Pope Francis and the church have only made it less likely that this will ever happen” (May 13; emphasis added throughout). Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, released a statement saying that the Vatican’s action “serves to undermine the only real solution to the decades-old conflict.”

Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, warned that the Vatican’s endorsement of Palestinian statehood is a sign of the resurgence of “the historical Catholic enmity towards Jews.” Michael Freund, former deputy communications director in the Israeli prime minister’s office, also put it in dramatic terms in the Jerusalem Post. “[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” he wrote. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries” (May 18).

These remarks are worth thinking about. Pope Francis and the Vatican are selling this decision as a routine gesture of goodwill toward the Palestinians, a decision that could even jump-start the peace process. That is pure propaganda. The Vatican’s endorsement of the Palestinian cause will add significant momentum to the international movement toward Palestinian statehood. It will pile more pressure on Israel to make more concessions to the detriment of its security—even its very existence. And when and if Israel refuses to concede, it is certain to be blamed for the inevitable tension and conflict that results.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is destined to end in conflict—and the Vatican’s decision brings that day nearer.

A Message to Bibi

The Vatican’s behavior is not without precedent. Recall the Balkan wars, scenes of which dominated our television screens during the early 1990s. The Vatican, together with Germany, played a key role in instigating Yugoslavia’s dissolution and the long and brutal conflicts that erupted. How? By being one of the first to formally recognize—despite strong opposition from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations—the breakaway regions of Croatia and Slovenia as independent and sovereign states. Most of the international community dutifully followed along. Within months, the Balkan Peninsula was on fire. (Learn more about this history by requesting a free copy of our booklet Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans.)

Will we see similar tension and conflict erupt in Israel as a result of the Vatican’s support of the Palestinians? It seems inevitable.

Historic Enemies

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Second, the Vatican’s endorsement of Palestinian statehood provides ideal cover as it pursues its own enduring ambition to wrest control of Jerusalem from the Jews and Muslims.

Four years ago, Italian journalist Giulio Meotti, writing for Arutz Sheva, explained how Catholic authorities had at that time “increased their political initiatives for Catholic control over some sites in Jerusalem.” He recalled, for example, how the head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, had said, “Peace negotiations in the Middle East must tackle the issue of the status of the holy sites of Jerusalem.” According to Tauran, the time had arrived for some of Jerusalem’s holy places, including the City of David, to be put under Vatican charge. After all, “it’s practically just the Holy See who is concerned about [the question of the holy sites],” Tauran stated.

Admissions like this are rare. It’s not often that we read about the Vatican’s love for Jerusalem and its quest for more control. But it is there, and it is thriving. The Vatican is not the non-threatening, neutral third party it appears to be—though so much of the news media believes it is. History shows that Jerusalem is as important to the Vatican as it is to Jews and Muslims. For Catholics, Jerusalem is the birthplace of Christianity and the setting of many important biblical events. The Holy City, as Catholic dogma states, is its universal headquarters.

Does anyone really think the Vatican genuinely wants to cede control of these sites to Muslims? The Catholic Church has shed the blood of hundreds of thousands of soldiers trying to take the Holy Land from Muslims.

Power Play for Jerusalem

Why does the Vatican want this? In his book Christians and Jews—Faith to Faith, Rabbi James Rudin wrote that the Eastern Orthodox churches that own the majority of Jerusalem’s sacred Christian sites oppose internationalizing the city because it “would give greater control of Jerusalem’s Christian sites and institutions to the Roman Catholic Church, which has significant influence in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to see the Vatican being given the chief seat in how an “international” Jerusalem is governed.

Israel is dead against this right now. But as it becomes more isolated and its situation becomes desperate, its resolve will start to crumble.

Of course, this is just one possible scenario. However it happens, the Vatican’s ambitions in Jerusalem are well documented. It desperately seeks greater control over Jerusalem, and every step it takes in its diplomacy with Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is dedicated to this end.

Full article: Why Is the Pope Provoking War in Israel? (The Trumpet)

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