In an official Pope's discourse it is said:

The Holy See currently maintains full diplomatic relations with 179 States, to which must be added the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It also has relations of a special nature with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. (emp. mine)

Can anyone explain why the nature of Vatican - PLO' s relation is 'special'? What is 'special'?

  • Is this situation current? What is the relationship between Rome and the PA? If it is current it is an interesting situation. Nov 1, 2013 at 14:30
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    It seems that this question should have been asked on Politics.SE, rather than here. Apr 27, 2015 at 21:14

1 Answer 1


It's special because the PLO is not a sovereign body, that is, it is not a national or supra-national body like other countries or the United Nations or European Union. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is headquartered in Rome, and is "widely considered a sovereign subject of international law" [according to a quote in Wikipedia].

Although the Palestinian National Authority was established (by the PLO) in 1994, the PLO Executive Committee performs the functions of the government of the State of Palestine. Currently, the PLO maintains a network of offices in foreign countries and also represents the PNA abroad [Wikipedia]. Thus foreign relations are maintained with the PLO rather than the Authority.

It may also be considered special because neither representative resides in the territory of the other. The PLO representative is in London, and the Apostolic Nunciature is in Tunis.

  • Would it also be special because it is the only political party the Vatican has a relationship with? Nov 1, 2013 at 14:35
  • I think the non-sovereignty is the reason. A political party is non-sovereign; but the PLO is a bit different from a mere political party. Nov 1, 2013 at 14:39
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    Since Oslo they are only a political party. The PA is the ruling authority. If the situation as regards the Vatican and PLO is current it is extremely unusual and then the question is well worth asking. Does the Vatican have a relationship with Hamas that rules in Gaza? Nov 2, 2013 at 7:08
  • @gideonmarx It's the PLO which handles foreign relations. The question asked about the word special, and the relations are special because the PLO is not a sovereign body. Nov 2, 2013 at 8:11
  • Now I like your answer much better. Nov 2, 2013 at 17:51

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