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Israeli Minister of Religion Denies Vatican Report Israeli-church Talks Broke Down

Dr. Judah Maimon, Minister of Religion, denied today recent Vatican City assertions that negotiations had broken down between the Israeli Government and German Benedictine monks for the return to them of the Dormition Church on Mount Zion and for payment of damages. The church is now within territory occupied Israeli forces.

He added that last night a meeting was held between Israeli representatives and Benedictine Church authorities, who had accepted a proposal for a mixed inquiry Commission consisting of Church and Israeli representatives, which would inspect the church and convent before the return of the properties. Representatives of both sides, it was added, will be appointed as soon as possible.

A Ministry spokesman also denied Vatican City reports that negotiations had been interrupted with the Franciscans for the return of the Caenaculum of Mount Zion. It is recalled that the Israeli Government officially admitted that some looting of holy vessels in Dormition and the Caenaculum holy vessels in Dormition and the Caenaculum had taken place in the first phase of the fighting last year, but that in both places there was relatively little damage–the Dormition’s valuable paintings are intact and its complete library of 390 volumes was saved by two Jewish officers who concealed the volumes in the crypt of the Holy Virgin during the severest fighting in the region.

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