Holy See talks with Israel to resume

 The first talks in five years between Israel and the Holy See are due to take place at the Vatican today. The talks, were originally scheduled to take place in March, but were cancelled at the last minute. The meeting will take place during the plenary session of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the state of Israel, an organization that last met in 2002. The Holy See's delegation will be headed by Mgr Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for the Vatican Secretariat of State's Section for Relations with States, Vatican Radio reported. Discussions will include the security of the Church's religious properties in the Holy Land and the confirmation of historical tax exemptions, which the Church had at the time of Israel's establishment and that the United Nations ruled Israel must uphold. This 'comprehensive agreement' was mandated by the Fundamental Agreement, which Israel and the Holy See signed in 1993. Despite this agreement, negotiations since 1999 have had little progress. "Writing a treaty of such complexity is a labour-intensive task, and, more than anything else, it requires time, " Fr David-Maria Jaeger, OFM, a leading expert on Church-Israel relations told AsiaNews. "There is no objective reason why the talks should not succeed," Father Jaeger said. "The Church is simply expecting further formal recognition of rights it has already acquired, as well as some fundamental guarantees for the legal security of her sacred places. "It should cost Israel nothing to agree to this, and it would also be in accordance with public promises that Israel has made many times over the decades." Source: AsiaNews/Vatican Radio