JERUSALEM (Jul. 9)
Msgr. Angelo Felici, the special papal envoy to Israel, completed today a tour of the holy sites in the Old City, both Christian and Moslem. He will meet Prime Minister Levi Eshkol tomorrow to discuss the overall status of the shrines and their protection.
Msgr. Felici, who is the Vatican Undersecretary of State for Extraordinary Affairs, came here on a special mission in connection with Pope Paul’s announced desire for the internationalization of Jerusalem to ensure freedom of access to the holy places.
Mr. Eshkol said in a statement last Friday that Israel did not seek ownership of the holy places and was prepared to consider any proposals that Msgr. Felici may have brought from the Vatican.
(The New York Times reported from Aedipsos, Greece, that the new Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Most Reverend Ieronimos Kotsonis, had announced his readiness to support the internationalization of the holy places in Jerusalem. The primate was quoted as saying that “it is better to have the status of the holy places independent of the political situation.” He said the problem of whether the internationalization would apply to the entire city or just to the holy places would have to be worked out later, preferably on the initiative of the United Nations.)
The Moslem holy places in the Old City of Jerusalem are again under the supervision of Jerusalem Moslem Committee which exercised that function under the Jordanian regime. It was reported today that the Moslems in the Gaza Strip would be given authorization next week to cross Israel to worship on Friday at the Al-Aksa Mosque in the Old City.
Archbishop George Hakim, head of the Greek Catholic Church in Israel, who returned this weekend from a visit to Rome, told the Jerusalem Post that Pope Paul VI had told him that “we shall do nothing against Israel.”