Israeli ambassador says relations between Vatican and Israel on a new path


The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Obed Ben Hur, has confirmed to CNA that a true “change of direction” has occurred in the relations between his country and the Holy See and that Israel intends to work together with Catholics.

In response to an inquiry about the news yesterday that the Catholic Church would be granted custody of the Upper Room, Ben Hur told CNA that this change of direction is taking place “not only in regards to the Upper Room” but also in order to “collaborate more extensively with the Catholic world.”

According to Ben Hur, his country is awaiting the return of the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel in order to continue discussions and perhaps reach an agreement before the end of the year.

Ben Hur said several informal meetings with Vatican officials have already taken place and that last week negotiations were restarted about “objective problems, such as security issues caused by the conflict with the Arab world.”

He blamed the security issues on the problem of visas for church officials in Israel.  Nevertheless, he expressed confidence that steps forward have been taken with the latest negotiations and that the atmosphere is good and the perspectives positive.

 Ben Hur said his country has begun to understand the importance of collaborating with the Catholic world, which, he said, can no longer be ignored.  “What I am going to say now is very significant and of great importance:  The Hebrew world and the Christian world, in particular the Catholic world, are natural allies that must work together,” he indicated.

The Holy See has not confirmed nor denied the reports on the transfer of custody of the Upper Room and although the Vatican Press Office says that for the moment no official statement on the issue is forthcoming, it did confirm the resumption of the discussions mentioned by Ben Hur.

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