Israeli-Holy See Negotiations to Resume in 2005

Confirmed by Ambassador Oded Ben-Hur

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ROME, DEC. 22, 2004 ( The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See announced that Israel and the Vatican are close to finalizing negotiations on juridical and economic questions.

Oded Ben Hur confirmed that the next meeting between both parts will take place Jan. 13, according to Vatican Radio.

The diplomat made the announcement during his intervention Tuesday in a debate with Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, organized by the Gregorian University, in a series of encounters on the topic: «The Catholic Church and Judaism from Vatican II Until Today.»

On Dec. 15 the Israeli government told the Holy See that its delegation would not attend the meeting planned that day to negotiate the exemption of the Church from municipal taxes, reported AsiaNews.

The Fundamental Agreement signed by both parties in 1993 awaits the conclusion of the ongoing talks to recognize its validity. With the signing of the 1993 accord, the Holy See accepted the Israeli petition to establish diplomatic relations.

The document enunciates the regulatory principles of the relations between Israel and the Church, while it proposes a series of complementary agreements, to be negotiated successively, that would assure the liberty and the rights of the Church in Israeli territory.

These negotiations until now have produced one agreement in 1997: the civil recognition of the judicial personality of the Church and of its ecclesial entities, but this has not yet been transformed into a law of the state.

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