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Israeli and Vatican negotiators still short of long-awaited diplomatic accord

June 14, 2017

A joint Vatican-Israeli working commission met in Rome on June 13 to continue negotiations aimed at a final diplomatic agreement establishing the legal and economic status of Church institutions in the Holy Land.

A statement released after the session said that the two sides were pleased with the progress of their talks, and “hope for a rapid conclusion of ongoing negotiations and the signing of the document.”

The Vatican-Israeli accord was promised as part of the “Fundamental Agreement” that was announced in 1993, opening the way for Vatican recognition of Israel. Negotiations proceeded fitfully for several years, and had effectively stopped before US intervention helped prompt renewed talks beginning in 2004. Since that time, Israeli government spokesmen have often said that an agreement was close, whereas Vatican officials have been more circumspect in their public statements.

In June 2013, for example, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Zeev Elkin, predicted that a final agreement would be in place by the end of that year. At the time Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the apostolic nuncio serving in Israel, was more cautious, saying that he hoped an agreement would soon be completed but warning that there were “still a few obstacles” to a final accord. More recently, in 2015, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, reported that he had “received assurances from Israel authorities” that the pact would be finalized.

 
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