11/08/2005, 00.00
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Israel-Vatican relations need a new stage

by Arieh Cohen

President Katzav's visit to the Vatican in mid-November is expected to yield developments.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) – The Delegations of the Holy See and the State of Israel met on Monday 7 November for a round of negotiations which lasted about four hours. The meeting was shorter than expected and no press statement was issued at the end. Even the fact itself that the meeting was held was not announced; it was revealed to AsiaNews by reliable sources in Israel.

Negotiations between the delegations go back as far as 1999 and their purpose is to secure the definitive recognition by Israel of fiscal and property rights acquired by the Catholic Church throughout the centuries before the State of Israel was created in 1948.

Given the stipulations of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel (1993), such an accord was expected already by 1996. The significant delay weighs ever more heavily on the bilateral ties.

The necessity and urgency of reaching such agreement could well be the focus of the announced visit to the Vatican by the President of the state of Israel, Moshe Katzav in the middle of the month. There are hopes that this event will provide the opportunity for the declaration of a new direction in Israeli policy, which will pave the way for a rapid conclusion of the eagerly anticipated agreement.
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