Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) - The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met today in Jerusalem "to continue its work on an Agreement pursuant to Art. 10 Paragraph 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the same Parties."
The talks were useful and held in an atmosphere of cordiality. Some important topics of the next meetings were spelled out. The next meeting will take place on 10 February at the seat of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Plenary meeting of the Commission will take place on 27 May 2010, in the Vatican.
As is well known, Article 10 Paragraph 2 of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement, which is the basis for relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel, obliges the Parties to negotiate a "comprehensive agreement", i.e. a "settlement of all claims" on the fiscal status of the Church in Israel, on questions regarding Church property, and on other questions of an "economic" nature (such as State participation in the funding of Catholic schools and hospitals serving the population of the State).
The text of that Agreement makes it clear that in negotiating a new comprehensive agreement, the Church does not renounce its claims to the continuing validity of the many rights she has acquired in all of these fields through the preceding centuries, i.e. that the talks do not start from a situation of "tabula rasa".
Indeed, spokesmen for the Church have repeatedly explained to the public that, for the Church, the purpose of the new Agreement is to consolidate and safeguard those rights already acquired to the Church, which existed already for nineteen centuries in the Holy Land before the establishment in 1948 of the young State of Israel.
Another important feature of that part of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement is that it promulgates, in effect, also the universal legal principle of "lite pendent nihil innovetur". In effect, this is a treaty obligation not to enforce unilaterally those kinds of taxation, from which the Church claims an acquired right to exemption, while the new Agreement is being negotiated.