Seemingly trying to walk a fine line between mending fences with Israel without insulting the PA (Palestinian Authority), the Vatican officials responsible for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Israel, which begins today, Monday, have objected to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat addressing a formal welcoming ceremony on Mount Scopus because the Vatican does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas of the capital liberated in the June 1967 Six Day War.
As is the case with the United States, the Vatican views these areas, including the Kosel, and many neighborhoods as “occupied” by Israel, rightfully belonging to the Arabs.
The pontiff has also cancelled a planned event which was to be held near the separation fence Green Line area for fear of offending the PA. The pope’s advisors feared this may upset Israel, canceling the appearance arranged by the PA, issuing a statement the pope never planned to attend this event.
Israel and the Vatican signed a treaty establishing diplomatic ties in 1993, but Israel’s parliament has yet to ratify the agreement. The status of church properties in Jerusalem and valuable tax exemptions remain points of contention.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)