ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Israel Is Not Keeping Its Promises, Says Archbishop Sambi
Nuncio Notes That Nation Lacks the Political Will
Nov. 11, 2007
"The Holy See decided to establish diplomatic relations with Israel as an
act of faith," he said, "leaving for later the promises to handle the more
concrete aspects of the life of Catholic communities and the Church to be
On Dec. 30, 1993, the fundamental agreement was signed, which, besides establishing
diplomatic relations "dictates that there also be a legal agreement, signed
in 1997, but never implemented on Israeli territory, and an economic agreement."
The economic agreement, Archbishop Sambi said, dealt with three issues: the
status of Church property; equal compensation for services the Church provides
to the Israeli population, whether Jewish or Palestinian; taxes.
"In regard to the question about taxes, the Holy See asks something simple
and natural," he said. "It desires that that which has happened in the last
three centuries, that which Israel promised at the moment of its independence
in 1948, that which is implicit in the legal agreement, that which in fact
has been happening up until this moment in regard to tax exemption for Christian
religious institutions, be crystallized in an agreement that has international
"Now there is a strange situation," continued Archbishop Sambi. "The agreements
that are already signed, the fundamental and the legal one, are internationally
valid, but they are not valid in Israel because Israeli law requires the
approval of the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] for an internationally valid
agreement to be valid in Israeli territory.
"And no one has any concern to seek the approval of the Knesset. The economic
agreement, after nearly 10 years of negotiations that have been made useless
by the Israeli delegation's delays because of its lack of authority in these
negotiations, in a word, because of a lack of political will, has not yet
"The confidence that can be placed in Israel's promises is plain for all
to see," he observed.
"The problem of visas for Catholic religious," the archbishop added, "was
easier to deal with when there were no diplomatic relations between the Holy
See and Israel."