06/03/2004, 00.00
ISRAEL - VATICAN
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Negotiations between the Holy see and Israel to be resumed on July 5th.

The Custody of the Holy Land is grateful to Jewish and American personalities

Rome (AsiaNews) – The representatives of the Israeli government and of the Holy See will meet on July 5th to resume the negotiations meant to fulfil the "Fundamental Agreement". The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Oded Ben Hur, confirmed the date of the meeting in an interview to AsiaNews. Rumors about new negotiations were already circulating in the past few weeks. Ambassador Ben Hur was the first to officially confirm the good news. He added that "hopefully the agreement will be achieved before the end of 2004". This would be an outstanding result, considering that the two delegations have not met for a whole year.

AsiaNews interviewed Fr. David Jaeger, who is the Custody's spokesman. "Hopefully, this time the negotiations will produce good fruits. I would like to thank all those people,both Catholics and Jews, who worked hard in order to persuade the Israeli government to fulfil our expectations. Particularly, I would like to thank the American bishops, government and politicians of both the parties. They have played a role of capital importance".

The Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the state of Israel has been signed 10 years ago. Thanks to the Agreement, the Holy See accepted Israel's request to inaugurate diplomatic relations. These relations should have marked the first step towards an agreement meant to grant to the Church more freedom in Israel. Unfortunately, Israel has never transformed the Fundamental Agreement into law. Analogously, the only other agreement reached so far (on the state recognition of legal status of ecclesiastical authorities in 1997), was not passed into state law. Israel struck another blow to the negotiations on August 28th, 2003. The Israeli diplomatic delegation withdrew from all negotiations with the Holy See, while talks were underway to reach an agreement on safeguarding Church property. Israeli authorities have never given any explanation for such behaviour.

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