11/24/2005, 00.00
ISRAEL – VATICAN
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Progress in negotiations between the Holy See and Israel

by Arieh Cohen

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) – Official delegations from the Holy See and the State of Israel met today in Israel. At the end of their talks the two sides, which together constitute the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission, signed a joint communiqué acknowledging that there has been progress in the negotiations. This is the first such statement since April 20.

After the audience between the Pope and Israeli President Moshe Katzav in the Vatican on November 17, the Holy See said it hoped that the existing agreements between the two states would be implemented.

Mr Katzav publicly stated that he would do his utmost to accelerate the negotiations.

Here is full text of the communiqué:

"The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel has met today, Thursday 24 November 2005. The Delegations have dealt with a number of significant issues, and have brought about progress in negotiating the 'comprehensive agreement' mandated by Article 10 § 2 of the Fundamental Agreement. The atmosphere was cordial and the Delegations are looking forward to their next scheduled meetings".

The previous session of the negotiations between the delegations of the Holy See and the State of Israel was held on Monday, November 7. The meeting lasted less than planned and without any statement to the press. Information about the meeting itself had been withheld from the press.

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 in 1948.

The negotiations, which have been going on for some years now, are designed to reach an agreement on these issues (which are found in Article 10 § 2 of the Fundamental Agreement).

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