Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Hopes for a "speedy conclusion" of negotiations between the Holy See and the "State of Palestine" and to this end, the creation of "a special technical group" are the highlights of a joint statement issued after the meeting of the official delegations, yesterday, January 30, in Ramallah.
"The talks - says the document - were headed by H.E. Dr. Riad Al-Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, and Msg. Ettore Balestrero, Under-Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States. The Parties exchanged views regarding the draft Agreement under discussion, especially the Preamble and Chapter I of the mentioned Agreement. The talks were held in open and cordial atmosphere, expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. The Delegations expressed the wish that negotiations be accelerated and brought to a speedy conclusion. It was thus agreed that a joint technical group will meet to follow-up. "
"Gratitude was expressed for the Holy See's contribution of 100.000 euro towards the restoration of the roof of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem."
It should be noted that the preamble speaks, among other things, about the status of Jerusalem which should be "internationally guaranteed" to protect "freedom of religion and conscience for all" and "equality before the law of the three monotheistic religions, their institutions and their faithful in the City. " The theme of the Holy City was also at the centre of Palestinian concerns, particularly that any agreement between the Holy See and Israel would cover Church property in East Jerusalem thus becoming a form of recognition of the "sovereignty" of the Israeli part of the city. Fears that the Vatican immediately dispelled.
Article. 1, however, affirms the PLO's "permanent commitment" "to respect and observe the human right to freedom of religion and conscience, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments relating to its application."
The Vatican has always expressed its support for the right of Palestinians to a "homeland" and existing "good relations" have recently been confirmed by the "favour" with which the Holy See has accepted November 30, the UN decision to admit the Palestine as a "non-member" of the organization and the visit (sixth) to the Vatican December 17 (in the picture) by the President of the PNA, Mahmoud Abbas.