|Thursday 30 April 2009|
|15:40 - STATE OF ISRAEL-HOLY SEE: FUNDAMENTAL AGREEMENT, "SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS" |
|"Significant progress, on the eve of the upcoming important visit of the Pope in Jerusalem". This was emerged from the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the State of Israel and the Holy See that has held a Plenary meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel this morning, 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. In the joint communiqué, issued by the Embassy of Israel to the Holy See, it's written that "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 December 10th 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".|
- The Holy See and the State of Israel jointly reaffirm the right of the Catholic Church to property.
- Without prejudice to rights relied upon by the Parties:
- The Holy See and the State of Israel will negotiate in good faith a comprehensive agreement, containing solutions acceptable to both Parties, on unclear, unsettled and disputed issues, concerning property, economic and fiscal matters relating to the Catholic Church generally, or to specific Catholic Communities or institutions.
- For the purpose of the said negotiations, the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission will appoint one or more bilateral subcommissions of experts to study the issues and make proposals.
- The Parties intend to commence the aforementioned negotiations within three months of entry into force of the present Agreement, and aim to reach agreement within two years from the beginning of the negotiations.
- During the period of these negotiations, actions incompatible with these commitments shall be avoided.
ISRAEL – VATICAN
Holy See-Israel: progress but no agreement before Pope's visit
During the plenary meeting the two delegations made "significant progress," but negotiations will continue till next December when a meeting will be held in the Vatican. Since 1999 the Church's tax exemption status and the return of holy sites and expropriated and razed Church properties are the main issues on the table.
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) – The Holy See and the State of Israel have made significant progress but the long-awaited economic and tax agreement between the Catholic Church and Israel will not be signed before the visit of Benedict XVI to the Holy Land.
The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met yesterday in plenary session at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegations were headed, respectively, by Mgr Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's under-secretary for Relations with States, and Mr. Danny Ayalon, the deputy foreign minister of the Government of Israel.
After a half day of talks the two delegations released a joint communiqué in which they noted that "significant progress" had been made by working-level negotiators in the months since the previous plenary in December of last year, and announced that the next plenary is scheduled to take place on 10 December this year, at the Vatican.
Some in the media had been expecting the Bilateral Commission to complete its work on the 'Economic Agreement' in time for the Holy Father's pilgrimage to the Holy Land (8-15 May), although experts had been warning that that was not a realistic expectation. The announcement of the next plenary for December means that negotiations are expected to last at least until then. At the same time the delegations repeated their commitment to accelerate the negotiations in order to reach agreement as soon as possible.
The delegations on the Commission are negotiating a treaty that should recognise the Church's historic tax exemptions in the Holy Land (roughly equivalent to those in the United States and other Western countries), establish rules for the protection of Church property, especially the Holy places, and obtain the return to the Church of some lost properties, particularly sacred places, such as the church-shrine in Caesarea that was expropriated and razed to the ground in the 1950's. These negotiations began on 11 March 1999.