Pope Francis met with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday for the opening of a Palestinian embassy in Vatican City.
The inauguration of the embassy came just one day before representatives from 70 countries gathered in the French capital for an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference and amid threats by President-elect Donald Trump to illegally move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
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The Paris talks began just weeks after a historic U.N. Security Council vote condemned Israel’s flagrant violation of international law in ongoing settlement construction on Palestinian territory.
The Vatican formally recognized the State of Palestine in June 2015 despite opposition from Israel, which said that it would damage prospects for peace in the region.
However, it also comes amid an atmosphere of heightened concern for Palestinian politicians.
U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump has said he will move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their capital.
“We are waiting to see if [the move] happens. If it does it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen,” Abbas told reporters minutes after meeting Pope Francis, according to the Associated Press.
France is hosting an event on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Sunday.
Abbas will attend but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused an invite.
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