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Israel’s Peace Problems and the Papal Visit Print E-mail
by Tom McGregor    Fri, Apr 10, 2009, 05:22 pm

The new government of Israel led by Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is anticipated to assume office this afternoon. For the Roman Catholic Church, one fact especially stands out about the new Israeli government headed by Mr. Netanyahu” the fundamentalist party Shas will yet again control the Interior Ministry. Earlier this decade was the last time a Shas member was the Interior minister. At that time, there was a complete cessation of the issuance and renewal of entry and residence permits, “visas,” to Church personnel.

Asia News reports that, “it took a very great deal of heavy international pressure to induce the Ministry to start issuing such visas once more, and when it did, it was on noticeably worse terms than ever before. Meanwhile, scores of priests and men and women religious were reduced to the status of ‘illegal aliens,’ several were stopped in the street by immigration police, and none could risk leaving the country, for whatever reason, for fear they might not be allowed back in. The ‘visa’ question, a series of difficulties and recurrent ‘crises’ has never actually been properly resolved, and now there is concern in ecclesiastical circles that it may become, once again, even more acute. The hope is, of course, that this will not actually happen, and that instead the issue will be settled by an agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel. Such agreement has been on the agenda of negotiators for the two sides since their 1993 Fundamental Agreement, but other issues have had to be dealt with first.”

The feeling in Israel is that the intentions of actively seeking peace, the “peace process” that was inaugurated by the 1993 “Oslo Accords” is currently definitely finished, which has been reinforced by the renewed prospects on the Palestinian side, of “reconciliation” between President Abu Mazen’s Fatah movement and the Hamas organization that rejects the “Oslo agreements” and with them, the potentiality or desirability of a definitive peace with Israel.

To read the entire article from Asia News, link here:

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