Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) – The Delegations of the Holy See and the State of Israel met on Monday 7 November for a round of negotiations which lasted about four hours. The meeting was shorter than expected and no press statement was issued at the end. Even the fact itself that the meeting was held was not announced; it was revealed to AsiaNews by reliable sources in Israel.
Negotiations between the delegations go back as far as 1999 and their purpose is to secure the definitive recognition by Israel of fiscal and property rights acquired by the Catholic Church throughout the centuries before the State of Israel was created in 1948.
Given the stipulations of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel (1993), such an accord was expected already by 1996. The significant delay weighs ever more heavily on the bilateral ties.
The necessity and urgency of reaching such agreement could well be the focus of the announced visit to the Vatican by the President of the state of Israel, Moshe Katzav in the middle of the month. There are hopes that this event will provide the opportunity for the declaration of a new direction in Israeli policy, which will pave the way for a rapid conclusion of the eagerly anticipated agreement.
Read the complete article Israel-Vatican relations need a new stage from AsiaNews.it.
So they want to have something ready for when the President of Israel comes to the Vatican later this month... I'm just a bit skeptical of Israeli motivations on this. The Israeli government has been putting off a resolution to this for years. Yet at the same time, they're prepared to turn over the Upper Room in Jerusalem in exchange for a synagogue in Spain.
In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I'm confused by Israeli policy lately. I read an opinion piece written by a Jewish woman who deplored the handing over of the Upper Room location, as it houses a yeshiva school and is the traditional site of King David's Tomb in Jerusalem. Ellen Horowitz wrote:
That means that no matter how overwhelmingly impressive you find the pomp, ceremony and architectural achievements of an oval office, Vatican complex, or synagogue-turned-church in Toledo, there is nothing more valuable or precious than the Land of Israel. It is simply not to be swapped, sold or surrendered.
"For Your servants have cherished her stones and favor her dust." (From the words of King David, Psalms 102:15)
At the same time as Israel is playing these games with the Holy See while aggravating its own population over handing land over to the Roman Catholic Church, as AsiaNews reported here the Orthodox Patriarch is having to go to court in order to force recognition of his election by the Israeli government. So far they have wanted nothing to do with him (since he intends to investigate the illegal sale of land to Israeli developers by his predecessor).
What we're seeing here is perhaps a conflict of identity. Is Israel the Jewish State or is it a modern, liberal, secular state? You be the judge.