Vatican and Israel at an impasse over property rights

Tax exemptions at stake
When Israel’s foreign ministry canceled a meeting with Vatican officials scheduled for early spring in Rome, the official reason given was the pressure of “international political events.”

To be sure, the Middle East has recently seen a flurry of diplomacy. But Israel’s cancellation, announced only a few days before the March 29 meeting, was only the latest delay in a negotiating process that has dragged on for more than 13 years.

That slow pace has significantly raised tensions between Israel and the Holy See. Two major problems are unresolved—church property rights and the issue of tax exemptions—and these problems in turn concern other Christian denominations with property and buildings in Israel.

Further delays in the Catholic-Jewish talks, say observers in Rome, would threaten to undermine decades of dramatic improvements in a historically troubled relationship.


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