Vatican, Israel closer to resolving property, tax issues


(JTA) — The Vatican and Israel may finally be ready to resolve outstanding bilateral issues and fully finalize the Fundamental Agreement governing relations between the two states.

A joint statement issued Wednesday following a meeting the previous day at the Vatican of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel expressed hope for a “rapid conclusion” of decades-long talks.

“The Plenary was pleased with the progress accomplished at the working level regarding the negotiations, and the cordial atmosphere in which the meetings took place,” the statement said. “The outcomes of today’s Plenary give hope for a rapid conclusion of ongoing negotiations and the signing of the document.”

The accord would establish the juridical rights of the Catholic Church in Israel as well as regulate property and taxation issues.

Though the Fundamental Agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See was signed in 1993, these issues have remained unresolved despite years of fitful negotiations.

The meeting Tuesday was headed by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, undersecretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, and by Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s minister for regional cooperation.

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