Israeli-Holy See Panel Making Progress

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 7, 2008 ().- Members of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission formed by representatives of the Holy See and Israel are making progress in their on-going negotiations, reports the Israeli Embassy to the Holy See.

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The embassy revealed today in a press statement that the commission met Thursday in Jerusalem to continue «the negotiations on the economic agreement that affects fiscal and property questions.»

Meetings of the commission are focused on the «comprehensive agreement,» mandated by the Fundamental Agreement, which Israel and the Holy See signed in 1993. Despite this agreement, negotiations since 1999 have had little progress.

«The encounter developed in a spirit of great cordiality and cooperation. The delegations have worked confident they will reach their common commitment to speed up the progress toward an agreement,» said the statement.

The next round of talks will be held in Jerusalem in December.

The issues being discussed include the security of the Church’s religious properties in Israel and the confirmation of historical tax exemptions, which the Church had at the time of Israel’s establishment and that the United Nations ruled Israel must uphold.

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