Rome, Italy, Aug 25, 2005 / 22:00 pm
Dispute between Israel and the Vatican over recent comments the Pope made on terrorism appears to have been resolved after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI calling him "a true friend of Israel," Israel's ambassador to the Vatican said Friday.
Israel's top diplomat at the Holy See, Oded Ben Hur, brought the letter Tuesday to the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in what Ben Hur called an "amicable and intimate" meeting that signaled that "we definitely see this thing behind us and are looking forward to improving our relationship.
The dispute began in July, when Israel summoned the Vatican envoy to complain that Benedict had "deliberately failed" to include a July 12 suicide bombing in Netanya when he listed countries recently hit by terrorist attacks, including Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq.
In his letter, Sharon said Benedict's efforts to promote dialogue with Jews and Israel made him "a true friend of Israel, genuinely committed to advancing tolerance, understanding and reconciliation," Ben Hur said in a phone interview, reading from the letter. He said Sharon then explained the reasons for his country's reaction to the omission.