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Sharply varied reports on latest round of Vatican-Israel talks

Catholic World News - December 11, 2009

Vatican officials have expressed cautious optimism about the latest round of negotiations with Israel toward the completion of a juridical accord—despite negative reports circulating in the Israeli media.

After a negotiating session in Rome on December 10, diplomats representing the Holy See and the government of Israel reported in a joint statement that their work had been conducted in an “atmosphere of cordiality and mutual understanding,” and said that they were anxious to continue their talks. But the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth quoted the head of the Israeli delegation as saying that the talks had reached a crisis.

Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, said that the talks had not broken down. “It is true that we have decided not to cause a rupture, and to agree to disagree, at this stage,” he reported. But he said that the negotiating session on December 10 had ended with “a feeling that we have gone back,” and earlier progress toward a final accord had been reversed.

The AsiaNews service, citing officials close to the negotiations, said that Ayalon’s statement may have been designed to placate Israeli hard-liners, who oppose any concessions to the Vatican. An AsiaNews analysis concluded that an accurate account of the December 10 talks would be closer to the “mutual understanding” mentioned in the joint statement.

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