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Six Months After Historic Agreement, Israel and Vatican to Exchange Envoys

Six months after Israel and the Vatican agreed to establish full diplomatic relations, the two states announced this week they would exchange ambassadors in the near future.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin said he and Vatican envoy Archbishop Andrea Cordero de Montezemolo had signed the agreement to exchange ambassadors on Tuesday.

The two sides had signed a mutual recognition agreement on Dec. 30, but had delayed establishing full diplomatic ties until final details were worked out.

Shmuel Hadas and Montezemolo, special envoys for Israel and the Vatican, respectively, since the signing of the accord, will serve as acting ambassadors until formal appointments are made, according to Beilin.

Beilin said the Holy See would now play an active role in all negotiations concerning the future of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

The establishment of full ties between the two states ended a process of negotiations that began in 1992, when Israel and the Vatican created a bilateral commission for normalizing relations.

The Vatican’s embassy in Israel is expected to be set up in Jaffa, while the Israeli Embassy will be in Rome.

Edgar Bronfman, chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, expressed satisfaction over the formalization of relations.

“This achievement marks a turning point in the relations of the Jewish people and the Catholic Church and is the culmination of an effort some 46 years in the making to effect better relations between Catholics and Jews,” he said.

“We look forward to further advancement of good relations between the Jews and the Vatican in our common struggle against anti-Semitism, hatred, bigotry all over the world and for the achievement of human rights for all without regard to race, creed or religious belief.”

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