"Incredulity" at Israel cancellation of Vatican meeting

Days before planned high level talks at the Vatican on legal and fiscal security issues for the church in Israel, Israeli diplomats have unilaterally cancelled the meeting, to the "incredulity" and "pain" of Church observers.

AsiaNews reports that the State of Israel delegation, expected at the Vatican tomorrow, has decided not to come, and communicated this only a very few days before the scheduled appointment.

The news spread quickly among Vatican correspondents in Rome, says, since several key journalists had been invited to meet the Head of the Israeli delegation following the negotiations in the Vatican.

They have now been told by the Israeli Authorities that Israel had decided not to send the delegation.

The cancelled meeting was to be the first one at such a high level in five years and was to be yet another attempt to conclude the negotiating round that began as far back as 11 March 1999

In the meantime, negotiations had continued, sporadically, at the "working level".

The purpose of the negotiations was to work out a "comprehensive agreement" on all tax and property matters, which would re-confirm the historic tax exemptions that the Church possessed prior to the time of Israel's creation in 1948.

The Church in Israel also hoped for the return of some confiscated ecclesiastical properties, for example, the church-shrine in Caesarea, which was confiscated in the 1950s and later razed to the ground.

The negotiations also aimed to establish procedures for resolving future disputes over sacred places.

Commenting on the cancellation, Franciscan jurist, Fr David-Maria A Jaeger, expert on Church-State relations in Israel, limited his comments to AsiaNews to expressing "incredulity" and "pain" at the Israeli decision.

Israeli Delegation will not keep appointment at the Vatican (AsiaNews, 27/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Benedict receives Israeli PM at Vatican (CathNews, 15/12/06)
Israel in surprise reopening of Holy See negotiations (CathNews, 29/11/06)

28 Mar 2007

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