Holy See-Israel accords are elements of international law
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Catholic perspective is understanding more and more that Israel’s difficulties to realize and to fulfil – through enactment of laws –the 1993 Fundamental Agreement hinge on the Israeli government’s conception of this agreement and its ensuing unwillingness to recognize it as an international treaty.
A source of the Israeli Catholic Church and expert in international law, told AsiaNews: “Any student of international law, even first-year students, will immediately see that the Fundamental Agreement is an international treaty and thus a juridical and totally binding agreement. After all, it was negotiated, signed and ratified in this form before the whole world. Whether it should be transferred to Israeli law in all its details is up to the State, but the Israeli government cannot describe the treaty as ‘non-binding’ before courts and the Supreme Court just because it has not been translated into law.”
As for defending the Status Quo for the Catholic Church, several ecclesial personalities in Israel have clarified that the Church is not asking for privileges but simply for the recognition of rights granted by the UN itself when the state of Israel was born (1948) with Resolution 181 and which Israel has promised other nations and churches several times over that it would observe. “The State of Israel should adapt its laws to the stipulations of international law. Besides, over the years, Catholic representatives have often consulted the most prominent Israeli law experts and all of them confirmed that there is no reason to think that an Accord as desired by the Church risks being de-legitimized by Israel’s domestic judicial powers.”
Pretty straightforward assessments and statements there. The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See in an interview had a different view of things, making lots of references to the 'nature of Israeli law' without really spelling out what that nature is that makes it so difficult to bring the treaty into Israel law.
Holy See-Israel: painstaking resumption of negotiations
[Said the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See:]
Yes, certainly, they were thus before the birth of the state of Israel and before the establishment of diplomatic ties. Now we are trying to find a way to formalize matters, a way that recognizes these ancient rights while coexisting with Israeli law without problems. However, what the Church is asking for today is contrary to Israeli law. Ultimately, it is in the interests of the Vatican itself not to do something that tomorrow could be rejected or cancelled by parliament. It would be an invitation to failure.
A) In this Accord, signed in 1993, there is the basis, the framework, the parameters for future accords between Israel and the Holy See. There are clauses that tackle the necessity of tending to religious freedom, the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity, all matters regarding freedom, as well as an appeal to collaborate in the academic and cultural world. This is a non-binding part because it is worded in generic language and is a sort of infrastructure on which to base relations.
B) Another part stipulated that within one or two years, a financial and economic agreement would be reached to establish rights and duties of Catholic communities in Israel. This should have become law and we are working for this to come about.
From our viewpoint, the transfer of the Fundamental Agreement into law was not foreseen. It was just an agreement that should not have been enshrined into law. On the other hand, more practical things, like the judicial system, taxes and so on, these should have become law.
There is truly understanding and awareness of feasibility. It is not as it was in the past; we are not faced with a wall or an abyss to fill. On the other hand, we cannot accept what the Vatican wants due to the structure of Israeli law. This is another reason why several months have passed to find a path, an opening. We want to arrive at something lasting.
The ambassador makes a decent point about generic clauses in the original framework that are more guideline than actual specific directives for the relationship. If he had just stuck with that and elaborated, I think that is an understandable point. The framework provides guidelines and successive, more specific agreements on certain policy areas would get down to details. But the comments in the first excerpts and then by the ambassador about Israeli law and its structure... Does this mean that in its history, Israel has never signed a treaty with anyone that has had the force of law? The ambassador makes no effort to explain how treaties and Israeli law relate beyond his murky comments.
Cordial ‘atmosphere’ at the Bilateral Holy See-Israel Commission
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Bilateral Permanent working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met this morning at the seat of the Foreign Ministry of Israel. At the end of the meeting, the delegations approved a joint communiqué, in which they spoke, in an “atmosphere of great cordiality”, of “progress” in the talks, expressed a “share commitment to speed up the negotiations”, and noted that the next meeting will take place on the 29th of January.
Negotiations aim at finalising the economic component of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement to protect the Church’s tax status in Israel and protect Catholic holy sites and properties.
The Pope met with Prime Minister Olmert and they talked for a bit before Olmert went off to see Cardinal Bertone and the Relations with States crowd.
The Fundamental Agreement itself.