Holy See-Israel talks continue to make progress, joint statement reports

.- Negotiations to decide the Holy See's status in the Holy Land are “cordial” and still moving forward to reach “the desired agreement,” according to a joint statement from the participating delegations.

Negotiations have taken place on and off since the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between the two States. They aim to reach an agreement on the judicial, fiscal and economic status of the Holy See in the Holy Land. Meetings take place every several months either in Israel or in the Vatican.

On Sept. 21, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission met in Israel once again to work towards a settlement. According to a joint communiqué resulting from the meeting, the talks were held in a “cordial” atmosphere and produced “progress towards the desired agreement."

The communiqué seems optimistic, according to one the Vatican delegates in the negotiations, Fr. David-Maria Jaeger, who spoke to CNA in June. He said that although the process is slow, "the attentive reader of the joint communiqués must know that when the communiqué says 'progress' it's never an empty, ritualistic word in that context. It is very precisely made."

Pope Benedict XVI himself hoped for a "rapid conclusion" to the talks in speaking to Israeli president Shimon Peres at Castel Gandolfo during their meeting earlier this month.

No date for the next working-level meeting of the commission was announced in the Friday communiqué, but it is known that the next plenary meeting is being planned for Dec. 6 at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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