LONDON (Jul. 19)
Negotiations between the Vatican and the Israeli Government will begin tomorrow when Monsignor Thomas MacMahon, of New York, head of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine appointed last month, arrives in the Jewish section of Jerusalem from the Old City, Reuters reported here today.
The report quoted Israeli sources as stating that last-minute instructions were brought from Vatican City to Jerusalem on Saturday by Father Terence Kuehn, an American priest. The nature of the instructions was not revealed.
The report also credited Israeli sources with stating that the scope of the negotiations would largely depend on the powers delegated to Monsignor MacMahon. These would be either to reach an over-all agreement on the problems of the Holy Places, or else to limit the talks to secondary problems of damages claimed by churches and monasteries for alleged destruction of property.
The negotiations are expected to improve relations between the Vatican and the Israeli Government, the report said, adding that work on repairs of damaged Catholic institutions has already been started by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem.
(Israeli Premier David Ben Gurion was quoted in a Tel Aviv report as stating: “There is no imaginable conflict between us and the Catholic church. If we are responsible for damage, we will make it good. The last thing we would like is to hurt the Christian church.”)