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  • » 12/17/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN – ISRAEL

    Holy See-Israeli negotiations get underway, ahead of possible Papal visit to the Holy Land

    Arieh Cohen

    The question of taxes and the restitution of Church property at the heart of two days of discussion. Among them the sanctuary of Cesarea, confiscated and destroyed during the ‘50’s. A visit by Benedict XVI to the Holy Land could speed up negotiations.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews) –Two days of negotiations begin today between the Holy See and the State of Israel, on the tax status and properties of the Catholic Church in the Jewish state. For almost 10 years now the Church and State have been seeking to reach an agreement to reconfirm the historic tax exemptions of the Church, to set rules for the protection of Church properties, especially sacred places, to have return to the Church several sacred sites lost over time, including for example the shrine in Cesarea, confiscated and raised to the ground in the 1950s. Wednesday 17 December the two delegations will meet at working level, while the next day, the 18th, they will meet in plenary session, when the negotiators will be led, for the Holy See by Msgr Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for relations with States, and for the State of Israel by his counterpart in the Israeli government.

    The negotiating sessions, in a round that began on the 11th March 1999, is being held against the background of persistent rumours of a possible pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May next year of pope Benedict XVI, and therefore of a  papal visit to Israel, something for which the Israeli government has been pressing very hard. There are many who hope that the prospect of  a papal visit will serve as a powerful catalyst in the negotiations.

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    See also

    18/12/2008 VATICAN - ISRAEL
    Holy See-Israel delegation speeds up work ahead of pope's visit to Holy Land
    The next round of meetings has been scheduled: four in just three months, after years of inaction. The date of the plenary assembly has been moved up, and everything will be completed before May of 2009, when Benedict XVI is expected to arrive in the Holy Land.

    27/02/2008 ISRAEL – VATICAN
    For Christians talks with Israel are about vital issues, says nuncio
    Mgr Antonio Franco says progress is being made, acknowledging the Jewish State is showing great understanding. He looks at the situation in which Christian communities find themselves in the Holy Land, explaining that a papal trip to the region requires greater serenity.

    08/06/2009 ISRAEL - VATICAN
    Church funds seized in the Holy Land. Custody delegate speaks out
    Fr. David Jaeger hopes that the gesture is the act of a “single functionary” and that it will be disowned by Netanyahu’s government. The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See is unavailable to comment.

    21/04/2005 ISRAEL – VATICAN
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    01/05/2009 ISRAEL – VATICAN
    Holy See-Israel: progress but no agreement before Pope’s visit
    During the plenary meeting the two delegations made “significant progress,” but negotiations will continue till next December when a meeting will be held in the Vatican. Since 1999 the Church’s tax exemption status and the return of holy sites and expropriated and razed Church properties are the main issues on the table.



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