In a historic move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opened his country’s embassy to the Vatican on Saturday.
“Today we met with Pope Francis. I hope that other nations follow the example of Vatican and recognize the Palestinian state,” Abbas told reporters after the opening ceremony of the embassy on Porta Angelica Street.
The Vatican recognized Palestine as a state in 2005.
On U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial pledge to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem, Abbas said doing so would only hurt the peace process.
“We are waiting to see if it happens. If it does, it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen,” he said.
After his remarks, Abbas entered the newly-opened embassy and raised the Palestinian flag.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu attended the opening ceremony representing the Vatican.
France Sunday will host an international conference in Paris to start negotiations between the two sides.
While Israel claimed the city as its “eternal capital” after occupying East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the international community does not recognize the claim, and foreign embassies are currently located in Tel Aviv.
After a rocky relationship between outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speculation has mounted as to how Trump’s presidency will impact relations between the two longtime allies.