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Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) – Official delegations from the Holy See and the State of Israel met yesterday. At the end of their talks the two sides, which together constitute the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission, signed a joint communiqué that AsiaNews reprints here:

"The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met today, 20 April 2005, to continue the negotiations pursuant to Art. 10, Par. 2, of the Fundamental Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See.

"The talks were substantive, frank and cordial, and the Delegations committed themselves to do their utmost to accomplish their task in a foreseeable future".

Through the Fundamental Agreement, the Holy See fully recognised the modern State of Israel and granted it diplomatic relations, on the basis of Israel's commitment to recognise, in its turn, the legal, property and fiscal rights acquired to the Church in the Holy Land in the many centuries before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Israel undertook to give effect to this recognition through a new bilateral treaty with the Holy See, which has been the subject of the negotiations that have been going on for some years now."

The Delegations of the Holy See and of the State of Israel met on Thursday, 31 March, at the seat of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and continued their negotiations aimed at implementing the 1993 Fundamental Agreement, through a 'comprehensive agreement' on confirming the Church's tax exemptions, safeguarding Church property and securing the State's participation in funding the social and educational work of the Church on behalf of residents of the State.

The meeting came shortly after the sixth anniversary of the start of this round of negotiations on 11 March 1999.

Like every negotiation between the Parties since 29 July 1992, it took place within the framework of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel, which was established and announced on that date. (AC)