Representatives from the Vatican and Israel failed once again yesterday to resolve a long-standing dispute over the Catholic Church's legal and tax status in the Holy Land.

They agreed to meet again in plenary session on December 6 in Israel following a "working-level" meeting in late July.

"The plenary welcomed the progress accomplished by the 'working-level' commission since the previous plenary, and has agreed on the next steps towards conclusion of the agreement," a brief joint statement said.

The Holy See wants full juridical and financial recognition of the Catholic Church's institutions in Israel, including a blanket tax waiver that the Church enjoyed before Israel's founding in 1948.

A 1993 agreement enshrined a historic rapprochement between Israel and the Vatican and set up the joint commission to resolve the Church's financial and real estate issues, notably in territory occupied by the Jewish state after 1967.

The joint commission, which had been asked to complete its work within two years of the 1993 accord's signing, did not meet at all between 1994 and 2004.Resumed in 2004, the negotiations have sputtered along. As an essential part of normalising relations with Israel, the Church is claiming restitution of lost religious property including notably the Cenacle, believed to be the site of the Last Supper.

It is on the second floor of the ancient Mount Zion building that also houses King David's tomb.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us