Holy See-Israel Talks Take Steps Forward

Plenary Meets in Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The plenary session of the Holy See-Israel commission to negotiate the terms of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement met today in «an atmosphere of mutual understanding.»

A joint communiqué issued after the session by the Bilateral Working Commission Between the Holy See and the State of Israel noted the «progress accomplished by the ‘working level’ commission since the previous plenary,» and said that agreements were made on «the next steps toward conclusion of the Agreement.»

The statement revealed no details of the agreements, however, as the meetings operate under the principle of «nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon.»

The Fundamental Agreement established diplomatic relationships between the Holy See and Israel. Since then, the two sides have been negotiating the particulars of tax exemptions and property rights for the Church, in particular for the holy sites.

Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, undersecretary for relations with states, led the Holy See delegation, and Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, led the Israeli delegation.

The plenary will hold its next meeting Dec. 6 at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next working commission will take place on July 27-28.

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