.- The Press Office of the Holy See released a brief statement expressing its regret after the Israeli delegation to the Vatican’s Permanent Bilateral Working Commission suddenly cancelled its participation in a meeting which was scheduled to take place on Thursday. The Israeli delegation said it was unable to attend due to “the current international political situation.”
The meeting, according to the press release was “to consider certain questions associated with negotiations concerning article 10 para. 2a of the Fundamental Agreement (which was signed on December 30, 1993 and came into effect on March 10 1994).”
"On March 26,” the Vatican statement says, “the Israeli delegation made known the impossibility of its participating in the meeting, due to the international political situation.”
Today an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman explained to Reuters that the delegation's trip to Rome "has not been cancelled but delayed."
He said the head of the delegation, Foreign Ministry Director General Aaron Abramovich, had too many unexpected, last-minute commitments such as visits by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The Vatican said it was disappointed but understanding, “The Holy See, while understanding the reasons, notes the circumstance with disappointment and hopes as soon as possible to be able to agree with the Israeli side a new date for calling the plenary.”
According to the Religious Information Service for Italy, the last plenary of the Commission took place 5 years ago. The purpose of the permanent bilateral Commission is the signing of on overall treaty on all the questions linked with taxation and properties of the Church in Israel. In particular, the Catholic Church is attempting to continue the same tax exemptions it received in 1948, when the State of Israel was born. Also important for the Church is the restitution of confiscated ecclesiastical properties.