Israel, Vatican closer to resolving differences

ROME (JTA) — Israel and the Vatican appear to have moved closer to resolving financial and other outstanding issues that have clouded bilateral relations for years.

A plenary session of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the two states took place Tuesday at the Vatican.

A statement said the plenary "welcomed the progress" accomplished by the commission’s working committee and had "agreed on the next steps towards conclusion of the Agreement." It said the meeting took place in "an atmosphere of mutual understanding."

Israel and the Vatican signed an agreement establishing diplomatic relations at the end of 1993, but several financial issues, including tax exemptions and property rights for the Church, have remained unresolved despite years of fitful negotiations.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon headed the Israeli delegation at Tuesday’s meeting. Ayalon arrived in Rome Monday at the start of an official visit to the Vatican, Italy and France.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry statement said one of Ayalon’s aims was to appeal for the implementation of national and European sanctions against Iran.
 

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