Holy See optimistic after Annapolis talks

The head of the Holy See's delegation to last week's Annapolis middle east peace conference said there remains a 'glimmer of hope' for peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

Catholic News Service reports that Msgr Pietro Parolin, who led the Vatican delegation at the meeting, said both sides have shown, since the end of the conference, that they are ready to make new efforts for peace.

But he said a solution to the sovereignty of Jerusalem must be a priority, as once it is defined, the religious dimensions of the Holy City can be determined.

"We went to Annapolis with a glimmer of hope for peace for two peoples who are dear to us and who see their most basic rights threatened," Msgr Parolin said.

"The two sides are ready to negotiate directly and to involve Syria, Lebanon and the other Arab nations in a global peace process.

"The meetings took place in a climate of trust, which must be protected and increased," he said.

Msgr Parolin added he believes the �right path� was found at the conference and this could lead to positive solutions for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The Annapolis meeting mainly set out a plan for future discussions on a variety of topics, including the status of the city of Jerusalem.

"An agreement on Jerusalem, especially the Old City - which is unique and sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims living in the Holy Land and throughout the world - must reflect the reality that the holy sites of the three faiths are not museums, but places where concrete communities of believers exist," he said.

"The special status of Jerusalem must be guaranteed and internationally recognized in order to ensure the protection of its historic and religious character."

Vatican-Israeli bllateral accord

Israel and the Vatican are close to concluding a historic bilateral accord on the legal and financial status of the Church in Israel.

AFP reports that Israeli ambassador Oded Ben Hur says the two are "very close to the conclusion of this historic accord".

"About 85 percent of the text has been examined and approved by the representatives of Israel and the Vatican," Ben Hur said.

Negotiations on the text resumed in 2004 after a 10-year hiatus. The next round of talks will take place on 13 December in Israel.

The Vatican is seeking tax-exempt status for Church institutions.

Vatican official says hopes for Annapolis peace conference seem valid(Catholic News Service, 04/12/07)
Israel, Vatican close to historic accord: Israeli ambassador(AFP, 04/12/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Mid-East Peace Conference (Wikipedia)

Pope prays wisdom will fuel mid-east peace (CathNews 26/11/07)
International Church Action for Peace in Palestine & Israel (CathNews 12/03/06)
Vatican official has high hopes for Middle East Peace Summit (CathNews 0/06/03)
Bethlehem faces darkest hour, mayor says in Christmas message (CathNews 13/12/06)
Pope spells out Mideast peace wish list (CathNews 03/06/03)
Vatican asks Israel to get serious about peace efforts (CathNews 15/07/03)

5 Dec 2007