Rome (AsiaNews) - "Significant progress has been made on many points of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel, especially on those already discussed in previous meetings," Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See Zion Evrony told AsiaNews. "Although some issues are still unresolved, both parties want to close the gap. This will be the topic for discussion at the next meeting of the Commission," he said, following yesterday's meeting in Jerusalem of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel. In confirming the content of the joint press release by the Holy See and the State of Israel, the Israeli diplomat added that "There are reasons to be optimistic because the differences can be overcome".
"Nothing is certain about the timing for a final resolution to the agreement," Evrony explained. However, the "meeting was held in an atmosphere of cordiality and great cooperation. It confirms major improvements Vatican-Israel relations, which are good and based on mutual trust."
Chaired by Daniel Ayalon, Israel's deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and Mgr Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary of the Holy See for the Relations with States, the meeting dealt with Article 10, paragraph 2, of the Fundamental Agreement, on economic and tax issues. The next plenary session is scheduled for June in Vatican City.
Negotiations to implement the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel began on 11 March 1999. Their aim is to reiterate the tax-free status of the Church in the Holy Land, obtain the return of Church assets to the Custody of the Holy See and to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and agree on rules to protect other Church assets, especially in the Holy Sites.