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Friday, May 1, 2009

Here is a report of what happened today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where I was "demonstrating"( a lone ranger among the wolves) . Also the communiqué from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Hillel Fendel's A7 article


Hello everyone,

Today was a rough day, and I am still trying to recover. Some days are just very discouraging, and today was one of those.

In the morning, at about 9:30AM, in Front of the Ministry.I met Bob Kunst , of Shalom International,  a group that is planning a demonstration May 11, for the arrival of the pope, and which has already received a police permit for it .

After the obligatory picture with signs -

 his was quite mild, it read, "Keep Jerusalem United",

 while mine was more provocative: on one side it said: "Rome, Ratzachta vegam Yarashta -DID YOU MURDER AND THEN INHERIT TOO? "

And on the other side it said:"Peres, Beilin.... Olmert, Livni....... And now Bibi, Lieberman-Ayalon, State of Israel -accomplices in this robbery"

(There is a reason why I give you these details, see later)

Bob left, and I remained alone in front of the ministry with my sign, waiting for the delegation from the Vatican to arrive.

I was fully prepared to confront them with my sign, and with some shouting and screaming, but what happened is, I was misled by one security guard, a young man who I believe was just ignorant ( but who knows, it could have been deliberate) .  When I asked him, - after at least an hour of standing there - ,  if they had already arrived, he answered me that no, they were still waiting for the delegation. But a number of guards were taking turns, guarding for short periods of time, so I spoke to another one, who was more genuine, and he told me that the delegation had already arrived at 9:00 AM , and they would be there until late at night. I had assumed that since last time they had arrived at 10 AM, this day would be the same, and I was wrong! So I patiently waited for signs of life, something to give me some clue.

At some point some people arrived who seemed to belong to the crowd, and I addressed them, but they all denied having any connections to the negotiations. Then also, cars with CD license plates would enter from different entrances. At some point, I finally spoke to a Mr. Golan, who said he was an attorney for the Israeli side ( I took a picture of him, I think his first name is Moshe, but I don't remember, sorry). He assured me that they were not signing, that Har Zion was not on the table, neither was Jerusalem. He seemed sincere, but who knows with these people.  SOMEBODY, I don't exactly recall if it was him, said that the "holy places" is another matter altogether.

Then later I saw a very distinguished rabbi enter, with a hard black hat and a polished beard, I believe he was Rabbi Pessach Lerner , but I am not sure,. He took a good look at my sign before entering, and seemed to carry a heavy weight after seeing it: I guess HE got the message.

As I was walking towards another entrance to the building, I encountered a group of about 5 men who seemed to be government people,  and they were exiting, either from the Tourist Ministry, or from the tax office, but I think it was from the Tourism Ministry. One of the men, clearly an official, and VERY Chiloni,  looked at my sign, SNEERED, and SAID: ALL HAS BEEN SIGNED AWAY ALREADY! Then he said: "MA ZE CHASHUV BECHLAL" ;  translation: WHO CARES ANYWAY. I was so shocked by his flippant attitude that I forgot to take a picture of him. SO THESE ARE THE PEOPLE NEGOTIATING OUR LAND AWAY! But another one of the men said: "We are on your side."

A lot of the guards seemed sympathetic,. Whichever Jew I spoke to there was clearly moved.


But according to the report I had received earlier from the Netanyahu man , when they meant everything has already been signed, they did not mean just money, they meant PROPERTIES.

I made the mistake of taking a picture where I was not allowed, trying to catch some official. I guess the guards already had enough of me, specially when I looked at the whole building, trying to imagine who is doing what where, and trying to catch a glimpse of the catholics, specially the cardinal.( I had been there already a good three and a half hours).

When I was finally ready to leave, I was just in my car, taking off, when A POLICE VAN ARRIVED, STOPPED ME, AND STARTED QUESTIONING ME. I guess the 'friendly guards' had alerted them. They seemed mostly interested in the pictures I had taken. I had no trouble deleting the ones that didn't interest me anyway, and kept the one I really wanted, from Attorney Golan. MY SIGN also irked them, specially becauseI had singled out the various politicians. At the end of the Chakirah, they told me that I am not allowed to go close to the building again , I have a Tsav Harchakah

JUST THEN I SAW SOME OF THE VATICAN PEOPLE LEAVE THE BUILDING, ALL DRESSED IN BLACK, and the police wouldn't let me approach them, SO I guess the whole thing was planned to A. confiscate the pictures, and B. stop me from approaching the very people I wanted to confront.

So despite my haranguing the policeman  - who was a lot nicer than his colleague, a cold, nasty Ethiopian young woman - I got all written up by them, on their computer, with address, Teudat Zehut, etc. But at the end, the policeman gave me a Bracha for HATZLACHAH!!! How do you like that? He kept repeating, I am only doing my job.

So that is the report of the day. It left me shaken, upset, with a feeling of futility - why did I even bother.... but who knows, maybe the fact that they knew that somebody is watching them had a little bit of an effect,  I really don't know.


All the best to all of you. I am drained, and I am not sure I have the strength to continue doing this,


PS: Below, the communique of the Ministry, and Hillel Fendel's article of A7

Meeting of the Israel-Vatican Bilateral Commission held in Jerusalem

30 Apr 2009

Meeting of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the State of Israel and the Holy See held at the MFA in Jerusalem

Joint Communiqué

The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the State of Israel and the Holy See has held a Plenary meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel today, Thursday, 30 April 2009, for the purpose of advancing the negotiations pursuant to Article 10 §2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel (30 Dec.1993).

The Delegation of the State of Israel was led by Mr. Daniel Ayalon, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was composed, in addition, of the following Members:
1. Mr. Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, Head of World Jewish Affairs and Interreligious Affairs Department, MFA
2. Mr. Oded Brook, Head of the International Affairs Division of the Ministry of Finance
3. Mr. Bahij Mansour, Director of Inter-religious Affairs Department, MFA
4. Mr. Ronen Gil-Or, Adv., Director of General Law Department, MFA
5. Mr. Moshe Golan, State Attorney's Office
6. Ms. Yael Weiner, Ministry of Justice
7. Mr. David Segal, Head of Deputy Foreign Minister's Bureau
8. Ms. Idit Duvdevany, Legal Division, MFA

The Delegation of the Holy See was led by Monsignor Pietro Parolin, Undersecretary for Relations with States at the Secretariat of State, and was composed, in addition, of the following Members:
1. HE Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel, Chairman of the Commission at the "Working Level"
2. HE Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar
3. Msgr Krzysztof Nitkiewicz, Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches
4. Msgr. Franco Coppola, Official of the Secretariat of State
5. Father David-Maria A. Jaeger, OFM, Legal Adviser
6. Fr. Jacek Dobromir Jasztal, OFM
7. Mr. Henry Amoroso, Legal Advisor
8. Father Giovanni Caputa, SDB, Secretary

The Plenary meeting of the Commission took place in an atmosphere of great friendship and a spirit of cooperation and good will. The Plenary noted that the Working Level Commission achieved significant progress, on the eve of the upcoming important visit of the Pope in Jerusalem. 

It was agreed to hold the next Plenary meeting on 10 December 2009, at the Vatican. In the meantime, the working-level Commission will hold meetings in furtherance of both Delegations' pledge to accelerate the talks and conclude the Agreement at the earliest opportunity.

Israel-Vatican Meeting: No Mt. Zion Deal

Iyar 6, 5769, 30 April 09 06:18
by Hillel Fendel

( Representatives of the State of Israel and the Vatican who have been negotiating fiscal and property matters for over ten years met today for their semi-annual high-level meeting, and once again reported "significant progress."

Nothing was signed, and another meeting was scheduled for Dec. 10 at the Vatican.

The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Monsignor Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Undersecretary of State for Relations with States.  

The negotiators, who comprise a council called the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission, have been meeting since 1999 to try to resolve fiscal matters concerning taxation of Church property in Israel.  The Fundamental Agreement between the Vatican and Israel, signed in 1993, stipulates that a consensus on these matters must be reached within two years. 

Today, nearly 16 years later, negotiations are still underway.

Asked if the question of control over the Last Supper room, in the building housing King David's Tomb on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, is close to being resolved, a Foreign Ministry delegate to the meeting answered in the negative.

Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, Head of the World Jewish Affairs and Interreligious Affairs Department at Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry, told Israel National News, "The question of control over the two rooms above David's Tomb is something that they raise from time to time, but it is not the subject of these negotiations, nor has Israel shown any signs of ceding its full sovereignty over these areas."

He did not say if this issue is being discussed in another Vatican-Israel forum. 

Another source close to the talks added that one reason why Israel has no interest in changing the status quo at Mt. Zion is because other churches, as well as the Waqf Muslim authority, would then also make demands of their own.

Similarly, Deputy Minister Ayalon told Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of Young Israel, that the issue is simply not on the table.

Reports from other sources had said that the Vatican's demands for control over the Last Supper Room, as well as for the hand-over of a list of other areas near the Kinneret Lake and in Jerusalem and Ceasaria, are still quite extant.

The Vatican proposal for running the Last Supper Room, in the building run by the Diaspora Yeshiva, was submitted as early as 2005. It reads:

"The State of Israel hands over to the Holy See the use of the Cenacle [the Last Supper room], of the access path to it, and of the spaces adjacent to it... It is the Holy See's intention to inform the Bishops - and through them the world's Priests - that the Catholic Church has been given the use of the Cenacle, inviting them to visit the Holy Place together with their faithful... The Holy See hands over this use of the Cenacle to the Custody of the Holy Land [which acts on behalf of the Holy See]... [which] will keep the Cenacle open from 6 AM to 8 AM for the celebration of the Holy Mass... Official liturgical celebrations of non-Catholic Churches can take place only upon prior written permission by the Custody of the Holy Land."

As stated, the Foreign Ministry categorically denies any intention to accept this arrangement.

Other members of the Israeli delegation to the high-level meeting included Oded Brook, Head of the International Affairs Division of the Ministry of Finance, and Bahij Mansour, Director of Inter-religious Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry.

On the Vatican team was Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel, who chairs the Commission at the "working level," as well as Patriarchal Vicar Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo.

An announcement released following the Plenary meeting stated that it was held "in an atmosphere of great friendship and a spirit of cooperation and good will" and that it had "achieved significant progress, on the eve of the upcoming important visit of the Pope in Jerusalem."  It was agreed to hold the next Plenary meeting on December 10, 2009, at the Vatican. Lower-level meetings will reportedly be held approximately every 1-2 months until then, with the goal of "accelerat[ing] the talks and conclud[ing] the Agreement at the earliest opportunity."

Last week, the Vatican and the Arab League signed an agreement in Rome, aiming to "strengthen collaboration for peace, security and stability in the region and to favor inter-religious dialogue."

The agreement was signed by Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, and the Pope's "Foreign Minister," Msgr. Dominique Mamberti.  Moussa was received, after the signing, in private audience by Pope Benedict XVI.

A Vatican communiqué said that the agreement "further consolidates the bonds of co-operation that exist between the Holy See and the League of Arab States, especially on the political and cultural levels, in favour of peace, security, and regional and international stability."


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