As reported by Arutz7:
Relations with Vatican on the Verge of Collapse
Reported: 04:45 AM - Dec/13/09
(IsraelNN.com) Israeli and Vatican delegations have hit a dead end after meeting last week to discuss the financial and legal status of sites in Israel considered holy by the Church. The Israeli delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beitenu), flew to Rome in order to discuss the status of the Vatican’s assets in Israel, as well as the Vatican’s demand for sovereignty over Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. The delegations were unable to reach an agreement on any issue and decided to postpone their discussions to May 2010. According to Vatican sources, Israel has postponed dealing with the Church’s demands for 15 years and relations between the two are on the verge of collapse.
» 12/11/2009 09:31
As reported by AsiaNews, a Catholic News agency
VATICAN - ISRAEL
Holy See-Israel: still no agreement, but work moving forward
The plenary meeting held yesterday at the Vatican described as "friendly" and further meetings scheduled for January and May 2010. The delegation led by Msgr. Balestrero and Daniel Ayalon. Fr Jaeger optimist: The slowness is due to the complexity of the matter. But there is no legal vacuum: the commitment of the Parties to negotiate a new treaty is 'without prejudice' of existing rights.
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) There was not much surprise in the Church in Israel that the Thursday 10 December Plenary meeting, in the Vatican, of the Bilateral Permanent Working Group between the Holy See and the State of Israel did not end with an announcement that the Agreement on fiscal and Church property matters, under negotiations for ten years, has not yet been achieved. Indeed the more knowledgeable one is of the significance and complexity of the issues, the less one expects the accord to be completed without a good deal of further work. The Commission itself announced the 27th of May as the date of its next Plenary meeting and the 7th of January, i.e., next month, as the next date for its “Working Level” meeting. Its Joint Communiqué, released in the Vatican in the early afternoon, spoke of talks characterized by “an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual understanding,” which is surely a reason for hope that, on a subsequent occasion, the much awaited Agreement will indeed be achieved.
At the twice-yearly meeting, held this time at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Delegation of the Holy See was led for the first time by the new Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, while the Delegation of the State of Israel was led by his counterpart, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Daniel Ayalon, a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.
As always, no details have been released of the actual contents of the meeting, although it is, of course, assumed that at least most of it dealt with the need to carry out the mandate of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel, to conclude a “comprehensive agreement” on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish State in matters both of taxation and of Church property. Essentially the Church wishes for renewed recognition of the historic rights it had acquired in both fields prior to the creation of the present State, in 1948.
It is generally understood that the Holy See’s entering into the Fundamental Agreement (in 1993) and its establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel (in 1994) both presupposed such recognition, leaving the spelling out of it in detail to this further treaty.
Why then are these negotiations taking so long? AsiaNews asked the Franciscan jurist, Father David-Maria A. Jaeger, noted expert on Church-State relations in Israel. “These are inherently very complex matters,” he replies. “It is necessary to examine carefully how certain historic rules could be adapted to present-day realities without thereby accidentally worsening the actual condition of the Church rather than securing it. And favoring the existence of the Church in Israel is the shared goal of both Parties. All of this takes time and effort and cannot be rushed. In fiscal matters particularly, the purpose of the talks is to identify the rules created by previous legislation, sometimes going back centuries, as well as by international resolutions, custom, usages and practice, and then look at how they might need to be developed to meet the challenges of the present day.”
In any case, he adds, “It is not as if in the meantime there is a normative void, since the existing legal situation, with its international law components, continues unless and until the new treaty itself enters into force. The Fundamental Agreement itself, in its Article 10 § 2, is explicit that the commitment of the Parties to negotiate this treaty is ‘without prejudice’ to the rights in existence.”
But at what point in this great endeavor are the talks right now, AsiaNews asks. “It is necessary to look carefully at the language of this latest Communiqué,” the Franciscan jurist suggests.
It clearly recognizes that there has been ‘work done’ since the previous Plenary, in May, and that there is likewise ‘further work to be done’. This surely indicates that the talks are steadily moving forward, and that the Parties maintain faith with their oft-declared joint determination to continue working at it, in order to reach the Agreement as soon as it can possibly be done.” He concludes: “I am an optimist: Too much effort, too many expectations, have been invested in this process over too many years for it not to succeed. The announcement as of now of the next meetings is the best sign that this is also the conviction of both sides”
However, there really does appear to be a crisis somewhere in the relationship:
» 10/31/2009 12:56
VATICAN - ISRAEL
Israel restricts visas for priests and religious in the Holy Land
Two African priests denied visas, the priests from Europe reduced to a one year visa. Church authorities are worried (for now) afraid to raise their voice for fear of the consequences. The cause for restrictions: the fundamentalism of the Shas party. The Fundamental Agreement of '93 establishes freedom of the Church in being able to "deploy" its staff in the land of Christ. At risk the universal and international character of the Church. A new "visas crisis”is about to break out.
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) - The Israeli Ministry of Interior is refusing entry visas to priests and members of religious orders and is also reducing their period of stay in the Holy Land. Among them there are not only figures from the Arab world, but also well-known personalities and biblical experts from Europe and Africa. The restrictive policy has been exacerbated by the Shas, the fundamentalist party, that has returned to control the Ministry of Interior in the new Netanyahu government. It is causing new problems in the relationship between Israel and the Catholic Church and the Vatican.
The latest round in the Holy See-Israel negotiations concluded on Thursday 29 October, as foreseen, with a renewed reference to the good "atmospherics" and mutual good will, though with no sign as to when the much needed Agreement may be expected. Observers think it very positive though that a two day session for November also has been confirmed, and with it also the Plenary planned for 10 December, in the Vatican. It will be the first occasion for the new Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, to lead the Papal delegation.
The Agreement, which has been under discussion for more than ten years now, is intended to achieve security for the Church in Israel, in terms of reconfirming her historic tax exemptions and safeguarding the property of the Holy Places.
However new challenges for the Church's security appear daily, and not only in the fiscal or property sphere.
As expected, the return of the Fundamentalist party Shas to control of the powerful Interior Ministry in the present Israeli government has brought with it renewed trouble for clergymen and members of religious orders. In the nature of things in the Holy Land, the majority of those come from other countries and need admission to the territory of the State to be able to function.
In Israel's first years as a State, they were able to become residents (although even then almost never citizens). Later the State adopted a policy of denying residence and offering only "visas" that need to be renewed periodically. At first, such visas were given for five years at a time, later the period was reduced to one year for citizens of Arab countries (citing security concerns) and two years for Europeans.
On the last occasion that Shas controlled the Foreign Ministry, several years ago, the issuance and renewal of such visas was stopped altogether and a couple of hundred Church personnel were reduced to the category of illegal immigrants and risked arrest and deportation.
Only world-wide publicity and strong international pressure brought about the resumption of issuing visas, though under worse conditions.
Now Church sources report, problems are no longer confined to Arab clergy and religious. At least two priests from Africa expected at a biblical study centre in Jerusalem have not been issued visas, while several European priests, who have worked and lived in Israel for many years, have seen their applications for renewal of their two-year visas denied. Instead they have been offered only one year visas, even though Israel has been their home for many years and they are very well known.
At stake is the international character of the presence of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land. Like Rome, the Holy Land is a place where the world-wide Catholic Church becomes visible in all her diversity. Making it impossible in practice for seminarians, priests and religious from all over the world to live, worship and minister in the Holy Land threatens this unique character of the Church's presence in the earthly homeland of the Redeemer.
Catholic authorities in the Holy Land are extremely worried by this trend, but are mostly hesitant to speak out, for fear that any public statement might have adverse consequences for their institutions. However, if the present trend is not soon reversed, another very public "visa crisis" may not be far off.
In seeking to persuade the State to take back control of visa policy from the fundamentalists, Church officials can rely on the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel (1993). There, in Article 3, Paragraph 2, the State recognises the right of the Church to "deploy" its own personnel to Israel.
Reached by AsiaNews, the noted expert on Church-State relations in Israel, Franciscan Father David-Maria A. Jaeger, who was part of the bilateral team that wrote the Agreement, confirmed that this was understood on both sides as being the meaning of that treaty provision, and the precise reason for the otherwise unusual use of the word "deploy" in reference to Church personnel.
“Of course - he adds - later in that text, the Church recognises the right of State to ensure the safety of its people, and that this means, in the present context, that the State can in good faith decline to permit the entry of individuals who might pose a risk to public safety, but that the State may not otherwise substitute its judgement for that of the Church with regard to the personnel the Church may wish to 'deploy" from anywhere in the world to its own institutions, for its own purposes, in Israel”.
Father Jaeger has clarified that he cannot comment on the facts and violations here reported. But that as jurist he says he is “confident that the key to resolving any difficulties in the matter lies in the 1993 Fundamental Agreement”.
And meanwhile, AsiaNews reports this:
» 12/12/2009 12:48
"Death to Christians": Hebrew graffiti next to Upper Room in Jerusalem
The graffiti was immediately removed to avoid exacerbating tension between Christians and Jews. Those responsible are probably young Orthodox Jews. In the area of close to the Upper Room many other offences against priests, nuns and holy sites. Doubts about the ability (or willingness) of the State to protect the places of Christendom.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Graffiti in Hebrew, with the words "Death to Christians" appeared two days ago near the Upper Room, one of the most precious holy sites of Christendom. The vandalism took place in the Vatican in Rome the Plenary of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel was being held.
The graffiti in black paint appeared along the wall of the Basilica of the Dormition on Mount Zion, a few meters from the place where Christians remember the birth of the institution of the Eucharist and the Church at Pentecost. The writing was immediately removed in order not to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Jews.
Church sources say that the authors are probably young Jewish nationalists, members of some yeshiva (Jewish seminary). Is not the first time that these young people have tried to offend the Christian presence and the holy sites in that area. Often, on the doorstep of the church of the Cenacle Room, run by the Franciscans, these groups carry out their physiological needs in open contempt of the site; other times, in dozens of cases, they spit at priests or nuns passing along the street; once they destroyed a stone cross along the wall.
The Church of the Cenacle is not the Upper Room itself, the place where Jesus instituted the Eucharist. This holy place is now owned by the government of Israel, although since the 14th century it had belonged to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. In the 16th century the Ottomans expelled the Franciscans, but they have never renounced their right to the property.
The graffiti incident took place while discussions were taking place in Rome regarding the return of the Cenacle and other holy sites to the Catholic Church. In this regard, Daniel Ayalon, Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the Israeli delegation, before and after the meeting said that "Israel would not give up its ownership of the Upper Room or other holy places under its direct sovereignty."
This episode and other offences cast a shadow of doubt on the ability (or willingness) of the State of Israel to protect the holy places and especially the Upper Room.
I am NOT an enemy of Christians who respect the Jewish People's sovereignty over all of the Land of Israel, and in particular over the Holy Temple Mount and Jerusalem. I consider such Christians our friends, as long as they do not try to proselytize us.
But whoever tries to cheat us, uses all kinds of shenanigans to steal the Holy Land from the Jewish People, manipulates world events against us, entices the world to antisemitism, definitely deserves this kind of treatment. That IS the Vatican and their allies, and they should not be surprised at this very mild reaction of the Jewish People in response to their own, hostile actions against us.
Comments by others:
Food for thought, SHmuel; what came first, the chicken or the egg?