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Vatican, Israel close to agreement? Reports are mixed

Catholic World News - June 15, 2010

Vatican and Israeli officials met in Rome on June 15 for the latest in a long-running series of negotiating sessions aimed at concluding an overdue juridical agreement.

The latest session ended with a joint statement affirming that “progress” had been made, the talks were marked by “mutual understanding,” and the two sides had agreed on the next steps to be taken in the joint talks.

These talks, designed to produce a juridical agreement establishing the legal standing of Church institutions in Israel, have continued since 1993, when the Holy See and Israel reached a “fundamental agreement” that led to Vatican recognition of Israel and full diplomatic relations. The fundamental agreement includes a commitment to conclude this juridical pact.

Israeli media outlets reported that the two sides may be close to a final agreement. Vatican officials more guarded in their comments.

The Israeli delegation participating in this week’s session was led by Daniel Ayalon, the deputy foreign minister. The presence of a senior Israeli official was a promising sign. In the past Vatican diplomats have complained that Israeli negotiators seemed to lack both the authority and the commitment to make the necessary commitments.

Ayalon was in Europe for meetings with leaders of other nations, seeking to rally European support for tough sanctions on Iran.

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