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Vatican-Israeli fiscal agreement could be ready by year's end

.- The Custodian of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said this week that “conditions exists for finishing the fiscal agreement” between the Holy See and the State of Israel “by the end of this year.” He also reported that, “A good portion of the points have been resolved.”

Father Pizzaballa’s remarks were part of comments he made about the recent trip of Benedict XVI to the Holy Land, which ended on May 15.

Speaking to the Italian bishops' news agency, he explained that “the issue regarding the fiscal exception is at a good point, but there still needs to be discussion about the issue of the Holy Places, which is something we are discussing at this time.”

Regarding the Upper Room, which Israel is considering returning to the Church, Father Pizzaballa said, “It is an issue that has a long history and will be studied in detail. In fact, there has been no discussion on the matter since the year 2000.”

Asked later about the issuance of visas for religious and priests, in particular for those who come from Arab countries, the Custodian said, “That has already been discussed even recently with the Prime Minister, but there have not been any immediate exchanges. We hope, however, for a normalization in the short term.”

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