Rev.1: 8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.---Jesus is the Alpha and Omega- the Almighty!
Daniel 11:33. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon: J'lem is on verge of signing agreement to formalize diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
Vatican Assembly Photo: Reuters
After 14 years of glacial
negotiations, Israel and the Vatican are on the verge of signing a long-elusive
agreement that would formalize diplomatic relations, Deputy Foreign Minister
Danny Ayalon said on Tuesday.
Ayalon’s comments to The
Jerusalem Post came after a meeting in Jerusalem of a working commission
that has been trying to iron out various issues between Israel and the Holy See
Israel and the Vatican established
diplomatic ties in 1993.
“In the last four years a lot of
ground has been covered, and after long, intensive and serious negotiations we
have overcome most if not all the outstanding issues that have prevented
signing of this agreement for so long,” Ayalon said.
He said the two sides were “on the
verge of signing, subject to final approval by the government of Israel and the
Ayalon explained that the final
agreement was not signed on Tuesday, because it was not appropriate for a
caretaker government to sign the agreement, and that the actual acceptance and
signing should be left to the next government.
“All the ground work is finished and
I trust the new government will sign soon, which is nothing short of a
milestone in the relationship,” he said.
Ayalon, who has led the negotiations
with the Vatican for the past four years, but will be leaving his post next
week, said the conclusion of the agreement signifies a “real upgrade in
relations between Israel and the Holy See, and between the Jewish people and
one billion Catholics around the world, to the benefit of both sides.”
Ayalon and his counterpart from the
Vatican, Ettore Balestrero, the under-secretary of the Holy See for the
relations with states, issued a joint communiqué saying the joint commission
that met on Tuesday “took notice that significant progress was made and looks
forward to a speedy conclusion of the agreement.”
Jerusalem expects this agreement to
improve relations not only with the Vatican, but also with other Catholic
countries around the world for whom the Vatican’s position vis-a-vis Israel is
Over the years the discussions have
centered around three main issues: the status of the Catholic Church in Israel;
the issue of sovereignty over some 21 sites in the country, including the
Cenacle – the site of the Last Supper on Mount Zion; and taxation and
Ayalon said that agreements have
been reached on each of the issues.
The most contentious was the issue
of sovereignty over the Last Supper Room, with the Catholic Church demanding
ownership, and Israel not willing to relinquish it. The two sides have
essentially agreed to disagree on the matter, but not let it stand in the way
of the overall accord.
While the Catholic Church does not
pay taxes on its properties in Israel, under the agreement, religious
institutions owned by the Holy See will be exempted from tax, just as
synagogues and mosques are, but church-owned businesses will not.
The agreement also works out the
issue of expropriating Church property for infrastructure purposes, with a list
of five sites – including the Mount of Beatitudes and Capernaum near Lake
Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth –
where land expropriation would not be allowed except for public safety in
situations of emergency, and then only after coordination with the Church.
Also, this site claims this agreement makes Jerusalem the second Vatican State.