Tel Aviv (AsiaNews)-The plenary meeting of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel, held at the Vatican, yesterday 10 December, apparently was a failure and negotiations are in "crisis" according to the online edition of Yedioth Aharonoth daily newspaper in Israel.
The website quotes the Chairman of the Israeli Delegation, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Daniel Ayalon as saying, among other things: “It is absolutely possible to say that there is a certain crisis. It is true that we have decided not to cause a rupture, and to agree to disagree, at this stage. However, after the meeting, there is a feeling that we have gone back, and that, in effect, all the conclusions that were reached by working teams before the meeting have been cancelled.”
According to the same journalistic report, the causes of the crisis in the talks are the expectation of the Catholic Church to recover the Cenacle on Mount Sion and the opposition of the Church to the confiscation of its properties, especially those next to the Sea of Galilee and in the Nazareth area.
The Deputy Foreign Minister is reported to have told the newspaper correspondent that those Church properties do have to be confiscated, because they are “needed for public infrastructures, such as roads and sidewalks.” Sources of the Church in Israel explain to AsiaNews that at issue are in fact the Holy Places that witness to the life and ministry of Jesus, such as Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee and the Shrine of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which the Church wishes to safeguard, precisely so that they are not confiscated and made into “roads and sidewalks.”
Informed sources contacted by AsiaNews, were clearly surprised by this report and declined comment except to suggest that credence should rather be given to the Joint Communiqué, which speaks positively of “work done” and “further work to be done”, which emphasizes the “atmosphere of cordiality and mutual understanding”, and which highlights the shared determination to continue the talks, even to the point of deciding the dates of future meetings.
An observer of the political scene in Israel opines: “That kind of statement is probably intended for internal consumption in Israel. On the eve of the meeting, there had been, as on previous occasions, loud protests by anti-Christian fundamentalist circles against the expected Agreement with the Catholic Church. And giving the impression that the talks are not successful could be a way to quiet those circles and allow the Government to make further progress in the talks discreetly, without such hostile pressure.”