12/11/2007, 00.00
VATICAN – ISRAEL

New plenary meeting (and little hope) in Holy See-Israel negotiations

by Joshua Lapide
The Bilateral Commission meets tomorrow, followed the next day by a plenary session of both delegations. The Vatican has been waiting 14 years to see the Fundamental Accord implemented. Impatience is growing over unfulfilled promises.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) – Anxiety, concern, low expectations and a bit of hope are the emotions that prevail on the eve of another meeting between the delegations of the Holy See and the Israeli government which should lead to the implementation of the Fundamental Accord. Signed in 1993 the latter must be complemented by juridical and economic agreements to come into effect.

Tomorrow, 12 December, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission meets at the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The next day the meeting should involve full delegations chaired by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Wahabi and Vatican Undersecretary for Relations with States, Mgr Pietro Parolin.

Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See Oded Ben Hur said a few weeks ago that the Accord should be finalised by 13 December. But lately the Vatican side has shown increasing impatience. Mgr Pietro Sambi, nuncio in Washington (a former nuncio in Israel), and Mgr Antonio Franco, the current nuncio to Israel, have expressed their irritation to the international media at the unjustified delays which are undermining trust in the State of Israel and its promises.

An internationally-binding Juridical Agreement was signed in 1997 but was never implemented in Israel. An Economic Agreement in accordance with the Fundamental Accord of 1993 has still not been signed.

This agreement should apply in three areas: Church properties unfairly expropriated or under unfair easements; the services the Church provides to Israeli Jews and Arabs; and the confirmation of tax exemptions which the Church enjoyed before the establishment of the State of Israel and which the United Nations said had to be honoured by the Jewish state when it was created.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post last 21 November, Rabbi David Rosen, from the American Jewish Committee and who took part in the negotiations that led to the accord 14 years ago, said that the “Vatican is showing remarkable patience and understanding regarding commitments made by the State of Israel in the Fundamental Agreement, which were to be resolved within two years but which have still not been resolved.”

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