Israel Expresses Displeasure over Vatican-PLO Agreement

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
February 15, 2000

Israel expresses its great displeasure with the declaration made today in Rome by the Holy See and the PLO, which includes the issue of Jerusalem, and other issues which are subjects of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on permanent status. The agreement signed by these two parties constitutes a regretful intervention in the talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is no denying that Israel safeguards freedom of conscience and freedom of worship for all, and provides free access to the holy places of all faiths. Similarly, there is no question that the religious and cultural character of Jerusalem is being preserved as are the rights of all the religious communities and their institutions in the city.

Consequently, Israel flatly rejects the reference to Jerusalem in the aforementioned document. Jerusalem was, is, and shall remain the capital of the State of Israel, and no agreement or declaration by these or any other parties will change this fact.

The apostolic nuncio, the representative of the Holy See in Israel, has been called to an urgent meeting tomorrow at the Foreign Ministry with the ministry’s Director-General Eytan Bentsur.