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» 03/27/2007
VATICAN - ISRAEL
Israeli Delegation will not keep appointment at the Vatican
by Arieh Cohen
The "plenary" session had been planned for longtime. They were working to a “comprehensive agreement” on legal and fiscal security for the Church in Israel. The process was started by the magnanimity and trust of John Paul II. Disappointment and pain among Church officials.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) - The Delegation of the State of Israel, expected at the Vatican on Thursday 29 March, has decided not to come, and has communicated this only a very few days before the scheduled appointment. The news was soon widely known among media people in Rome, who cover the Vatican, since several key journalists had been invited to meet the Head of the Israeli Delegation on Thursday evening, following the negotiations in the Vatican, and have now had to be told by the Israeli Authorities that Israel had decided not to send the Delegation.

In the absence so far of any official comment by the Holy See, it is not yet possible to evaluate the gravity of the damage inflicted on the bilateral relationship by this unusual move, which follows a long list of appointments made and later cancelled or ignored by the Israeli side - although so far only at a "lower" level than this one.

The meeting, now cancelled by Israel, of the full teams of negotiators, which was to be held in the Vatican on Thursday 29 March - the first one at this level in five years -  was to be yet another attempt to conclude the negotiating round that began as far back as 11 March 1999. In the meantime the negotiations continued, sporadically, at the "working level."

As is well known, their purpose is to work out a "comprehensive agreement" on all tax and property matters, which would give the Church in Israel legal and fiscal security. In practical terms, the Catholic Church wishes to see re-confirmed the historic tax exemptions that she already possessed at the time that Israel came into being, in 1948. Likewise the Church in Israel hopes for the return of some confiscated ecclesiastical properties, for example, the church-shrine in Caesarea, which was confiscated in the 1950's and later razed to the ground. In particular too, it is important for the security of Catholic sacred places owned by the Church, to ensure that any legal disputes concerning them should be decided by the courts, according to law ("due process") and never, as is possible today, by politicians, in purely discretionary fashion.

In the Church in Israel there was much expectation for the results of the meeting, which Israel has now abruptly cancelled, and the  prospect of the first meeting of the "Plenary" of the negotiating teams, after a five year interval was cause for cautious optimism, which has now been replaced by just one more disappointment.

Indeed, a positive outcome to the talks could have strengthened confidence in the wisdom of the Church's choice to go ahead and sign the 1993 "Fundamental Agreement" with the State of Israel , and to establish with it full diplomatic relations only months later, even while leaving matters of decisive importance to later negotiations and agreements.

The rationale for that decision was described to AsiaNews  (before learning of the unilateral cancellation) by the Franciscan jurist, Fr. David-Maria A. Jaeger, expert on Church-State relations in Israel: "It was believed best to to go ahead, and demonstrate, right at the start, with magnanimity, the Church's own good faith, and with it, unreserved trust in the other Party to carry out its own obligations under international law. There was the hope-full expectation that magnanimity and trust on the part of the Church would call forth corresponding trust and magnanimity on the part of the other side. It was a courageously generous decision by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, and I, for my part, continue to pray and hope that he will be proved to have been right all along". Asked by AsiaNews for his views on the unilateral cancellation, Father Jaeger limited himself to expressing "incredulity" and "pain," and declined to comment any further.


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See also
03/17/2006 israel - vatican
Israel's war against the hospice of the Daughters of Charity continues
by Arieh Cohen
06/08/2009 ISRAEL - VATICAN
Ministry for Finance seizes Church funds. Holy See-Israeli negotiations at stake
by Arieh Cohen
02/19/2009 ISRAEL - VATICAN
Hope for a conclusion in Holy See-Israel talks before Pope's arrival in Holy Land
by Arieh Cohen
04/23/2009 VATICAN - ISRAEL
“Meaningful progress” in bilateral talks between the Holy See and Israel
by Arieh Cohen
05/17/2007 VATICAN - ISRAEL
Holy See and Israel to hold plenary meeting on May 21
by Arieh Cohen

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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