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from issue no. 12 - 2003

The Economic Agreement still doesn’t exist

The negotiations need to be completed

by Giovanni Cubeddu

The Fundamental Agreement of 1993 was followed in 1997 by the Accord on the Legal Person, that finally defined the legal status of the ecclesiastical institutions in Israel. But the stumbling-block of the so-called Economic Agreement still remains between the Holy See and Israel, already deliberated in the 1993 Agreement, and aimed at consolidating the uncertain economic and fiscal situation of Catholic bodies in Israel. The relative negotiations, for which rapid positive closure has often been hoped, were broken off most recently at the end of the August 2003.
While I write, we await the results of a meeting at the highest level of the Israeli government, planned for Sunday 7 December and postponed to a date yet to be decided (unfortunately it’s not the first time that such delays have occurred). In the order of the day, agreed by Sharon and by the ministers concerned (Interior, Foreign, Finance and Religious Affairs), there is a point that concerns the situation of the Christians in Israel, and one can imagine the concern with which both sides are awaiting the meeting. The concern of the Holy See, represented by the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel Pietro Sambi, is obvious, given that it’s a matter of restarting the important negotiations. But the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Oded Ben Hur, doesn’t intend to leave anything untried in order to make his government aware of the importance of tranquil relations with the Catholics, and in mid December he flew to Jerusalem, for “talks”. Last June, when presenting his credentials to the Pope – who referred in his speech to the Economic Agreement - Ambassador Ben Hur promised to dedicate “every effort” to the implementation of the Fundamental Accord and to «filling our daily relations with tangible contents».

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