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Meir-pope Meeting Expected to Open Dialogue Between Israel-vatican

January 23, 1973
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Premier Golda Meir’s meeting with Pope Paul VI in the Vatican Jan. 15 is expected to open a continuing dialogue between Israel and the Vatican shortly which will concentrate on finding ways and means to grant special legal status to Christian-holy places in Jerusalem, informed sources said here today.

The Pope is understood to have expressed to Mrs. Meir his interest in proposals for legal formulas that would accord special status to Christian holy places. However, the Pontiff is not believed to have suggested “extra-territorial status” for the Christian shrines. He is believed to be interested in finding another formula that would confer special status on the sites. Mrs. Meir, in her public statement last week on her Vatican meeting, stressed that Israel has no desire to administer the holy places of other faiths.

Political observers here, meanwhile, have expressed astonishment over criticism voiced by Vatican sources of Mrs. Meir’s press statements on her meeting with the Pope. The expressed particular surprise at Italian press reports claiming that the Vatican was annoyed by the premature announcement in Israel of the meeting. The news of the meeting was announced in coordination with the Vatican, sources here pointed out.

The sources said that there was nothing in Mrs. Meir’s subsequent press interviews that could be interpreted as an affront to the Pope. The interviews published in Israeli newspapers and on television were aimed at clarifying the nature of the meeting and the developments that brought it about, the sources said.

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