VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is continuing its diplomatic efforts with representatives both of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
On Friday, a Vatican communiqué reported on a meeting between Holy See and Israeli representatives. And today, a communiqué noted a meeting with Vatican officials and representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
The Friday note reported that the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held its plenary session at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs last Thursday, to carry on negotiations related to the Fundamental Agreement, article 10 paragraph 2, dealing with economic and fiscal matters.
Present at the meeting was Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary for Relations with States, and Daniel Ayalon, Israeli deputy minister for foreign affairs. The statement said that "the negotiations took place in an open, friendly and constructive atmosphere. Substantive progress was made on issues of significance."
The parties agreed on the next steps toward the conclusion of the Agreement, and to hold their next plenary meeting June 11 in the Vatican.
Then, today, a joint communiqué following a bilateral meeting between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization was released. The Saturday encounter was co-chaired by Monsignor Balestrero and Minister Ziad Al-Bandak, the Palestinian President's advisor for Christian relations.
"The Palestinian side handed to the Holy See delegation the response to the draft agreement proposed by the Holy See in the previous meeting, and the talks took place in a positive atmosphere to strengthen further the special relations between the two sides," the statement said.
They also agreed to set up technical teams to follow up on the draft, in preparation of the plenary session in the Vatican in the near future.
The Holy See delegation was composed of Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; Monsignor Maurizio Malvestiti, under-secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches; Monsignor Alberto Ortega, official of the Vatican's Secretariat of the State, and Monsignor Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, counsellor of the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem.
For the Palestinians those present at the meeting were: Dr. Nabil Shaath, member of the Fatah Central Committee; Dr. Bernard Sabella, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Mr. Issa Kassissieh, deputy head of the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department, and Mr. Wassim Khazmo, policy advisor at the PLO's Negotiations Support Unit.
In 2000 a "Basic Agreement" was formulated between the Holy See and the PLO. It covered matters such as freedom of religion, human rights, freedom of Church institutions and their legal, economic and fiscal status in Palestinian-ruled areas. The Agreement soon ran into difficulty because of the Intifada that followed soon after.