how long can this go on? forever?
In 1993 the Vatican and Israel reached a “fundamental agreement” that opened the way for formal diplomatic relations: a good thing. Pressing to get the deal done, the two sides agreed to leave some details—such as the legal status of Christian shrines in the Holy Land, and the taxation of Church institutions—to be settled later. They would clear up those issues in another separate pact, they decided. That was a perfectly understandable approach—in 1993.
Now it’s 2010, and that second juridical pact still hasn’t been completed. Israeli and Vatican negotiators met again this week, for the umpteenth time. As usual they reported “progress” toward a new agreement. But how is it possible to make “progress” in one meeting after another, over the course of 17 years, without reaching—or apparently even nearing—the final goal?
What’s going on here? There may be a clue in the latest Vatican announcement, which referred to the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel. Notice the words. It’s a working commission; it’s bilateral. And it’s permanent.
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