A fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and Israel was signed in Jerusalem on December 30 1993: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/archivio/documents/rc_seg-st_19931230_santa-sede-israele_en.html
Action on some of the provisions involving taxes, visas for Catholic workers and other issues are still pending on the part of Israel. Below are a few pieces that give some background on the state of relations between the Holy See and Israel.
PRESS OFFICE ON PAPAL AUDIENCE WITH ISRAELI PRESIDENT RIVLIN
“Today, 15 November, the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Excellency Mr. Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by H.E. Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
“During the cordial discussions, which took place around the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the positive relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel were evoked and, with regard to the state authorities and the local Catholic communities, the hope was expressed that suitable agreements may be reached in relation to some issues of common interest.
“Mention was made of the importance of building greater mutual trust in view of the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians so as to reach an accord respecting the legitimate aspirations of both peoples, and of the Jerusalem question, in its religious and human dimension for Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as the importance of safeguarding its identity and vocation as City of Peace.
“Finally, attention turned to the political and social situation in the region, marked by different conflicts and the consequent humanitarian crises. In this context, the parties highlighted the importance of dialogue between the various religious communities in order to guarantee peaceful coexistence and stability.”
RIVLIN THANKS POPE FRANCIS FOR FIGHTING ANTISEMITISM
(THE JERUSALEM POST)
President Reuven Rivlin met with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on Thursday morning, and thanked the pontiff for his support in the fight against antisemitism on behalf of Israel and world Jewry.
“Your absolute condemnation of acts of antisemitism and your definition of such acts as anti-Christian are a significant step in the ongoing fight to stamp it out,” said the president.
Rivlin also discussed the controversy between the Jerusalem city government and church over municipal property taxes. “The State of Israel has full freedom of worship for all religions in all holy places,” Rivlin said.
In February, the municipality announced its intention to start collecting taxes from properties owned by churches that are not prayer houses. The municipality notified the Finance, Interior and Foreign ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office that it will start collecting NIS 650 million in tax from 887 properties. It said that until February it had refrained from such tax collections because the state did not permit it.
The move outraged churches based in Jerusalem, which in a rare protest closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The audience was Rivlin’s second with Pope Francis. Their first meeting, also at the invitation of the Pope, took place in 2015.
The president and his wife Nechama received an official welcome to the Vatican, reviewing the Pontifical Swiss Guard in their traditional uniforms.
CATHOLIC BISHOPS IN THE HOLY LAND ON ISRAEL’S NATION STATE LAW
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land released a statement on 2 November responding to the Nation State Law of 19 July 2018 passed by the Israeli Knesset.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews. November 5)
It is out of a “spirit of dialogue” that the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land speak out in a statement responding to the “issue of the Nation State Law passed by the Israeli Knesset on 19 July 2018.
We are all citizens
The legislation at issue limits the promotion and protection offered by the State of Israel to “Jewish citizens of the State of Israel”. In direct response to this, the Bishops write:
“We must draw the attention of the authorities to a simple fact: our faithful, the Christians, our fellow citizens, Muslim, Druze and Baha’i, all of us who are Arabs, are no less citizens of this country than our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
The Bishops also draw attention to the ongoing tension arising from the definition of Israel’s democracy being both “Jewish” and “democratic”. It is the Jewish majority who determines what this means, while the Arab minority experiences the discrimination caused by the imbalance of the “Jewish” element over the “democratic”. An ongoing struggle to “protect the rights of all citizens, to guarantee as much as possible the values of equality, justice and democracy” received a milestone victory with the 1992 passage of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, the statement says.
Recent passage of the new Nation State legislation “is a blow to these values”, the statement continues. Now there is a “constitutional and legal basis for discrimination” because “Jewish citizens are to be privileged over and above other citizens”. In addition to “seriously downgrading the standing of the Arab language”, the law ignores “Palestinian Arabs, other major religious communities, Christians and Muslims as well as Druze and Baha’i”.
Demand for equality
The statement continues with a declaration that the above-mentioned groups “demand to be treated as equal citizens.” In addition, equality must incorporate civic, ethnic, and religious identities. This demand is based on the fact that “Jerusalem and the whole of this Holy Land is a heritage we share with Jews and Muslims, Druze and Baha’i, a heritage we are called upon to protect from division and internecine strife”.
Call to rescind the law
In conclusion, the Bishops “call on the authorities to rescind” the law since it is contradictory to both the humanistic and democratic basis of Israeli legislation and international law. Thus all can be assured that the “State of Israel seeks to promote and protect the welfare and the safety of all its citizens”.
There are 25 signatories to the statement, representing the Latin, Armenian, Melkite, Chaldean and Maronite Churches, as well as the representatives of men and women religious serving in the Holy Land.
HOLY SEE REITERATES ISRAEL-PALESTINE TWO-STATE SOLUTION, JERUSALEM STATUS QUO
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York on October 18 addressed a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)
The Holy See has reiterated its unwavering support for a fair, durable and early solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through the resumption of negotiations aimed at reaching a Two-State solution, with Israel and a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security within internationally-recognized borders.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York made the call in an address on Thursday to a UN Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
Legitimate aspirations of both peoples
While expressing grave concern over facts on the ground, the Vatican diplomat called on both sides to demonstrate wisdom, responsibility and the political will to reach a historic peace agreement that would meet the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.
“Persevering dialogue based on good will ,” he said, “must replace inflammatory rhetoric, violence and conflict.” “Innocent civilians must never be the target of terror or overwhelming military actions,” he stressed.
Noting that states in and outside the Middle East have exacerbated the Israeli-Palestinian discord and the intra-Palestinian divisions for their own interests, Arch. Auza urged these states to rather facilitate and sustain the peace process.
“Status quo” for Jerusalem status
The status of Jerusalem has been a painful issue between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its “united and eternal” capital.
At the UN, Arch. Auza reiterated the Holy See’s support for the historic “status quo” of Jerusalem, in line with UN resolutions, rejecting any unilateral measure aimed at changing it.
He asserted the Holy See stand that the Holy City be a place of convergence and peace and that the followers of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam be guaranteed free and unhindered access to the Holy Places.
The Holy See official also expressed serious concern over the dire humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees. Arch. Auza urged that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), that is providing some 5.6 million Palestine refugees with the most basic human needs, be allowed to function fully in order to prevent the situation from worsening. (from October 19)