Separate deals. Back room deals. Secret deals. off the books deals. The last Supper: a second sitting? the line up is around the block from Zion’s gate… Who owns what and where and the mirage and myriad of ownership rights, holding companies, management companies is almost impossible for the layperson to unravel. All that seems to be apparent is that the smell is not a pleasant one. Its the underside to institutional religion, money, and the hardball politics that is attracted to “god’s work”; and fortunate that this blessed mess has not given rise to more communists and atheists, theists and fed-up-ists than there actually are. Who really controls who? It seems a lot about taxes and much less about scripture, repairing this world, being a light unto this world, and for some the impatient waiting for the messiah in the end of days; for others its revenue per square foot and the nation state as real estate project…
Like Lenny Bruce’s old skit Religion Inc. that landed him in the clink: ( see link at end) …One diplomatic official said that while significant progress may indeed have occurred; there was still a long way to go in dealing with issues that have bedeviled the sides for years. The official said Palestinian concern that the Vatican was on the verge of implicitly recognizing Israel’s control over east Jerusalem by reaching an agreement with Israel over church properties there was “ridiculous.” “Do you really think that is going to happen,” he asked.Balestrero said in an interview released by the Vatican Tuesday that the agreement being discussed “will not speak about east Jerusalem or places in the West Bank.” Read More:http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?ID=273657&R=R1
( see link at end) …Israel and the Vatican are struggling to end a long-running dispute over the ownership and tax status of religious sites in Israel, including a place revered as the location of Jesus’ last supper.Churches acquired large amounts of land around Jerusalem as the Ottoman empire went into decline from the early 19th century, long before Israel was founded in 1948.
Now the Vatican seeks recognition of its “historic rights” to tax exemption, and to set rules for protection of religious sites and the return of what it calls lost church property.Negotiators met this month but failed to reach a deal and the talks remain deadlocked, although the sides have agreed to meet again in February, with the next round of high-level talks scheduled for May.Though only a handful of sites are being discussed, the outcome may have an impact on future transactions, particularly in Jerusalem, where religious institutions are huge land owners.An Israeli official familiar with the talks said Israel was worried that any broad concessions would set a precedent….
Today, many official Israeli buildings sit on leased church land. But agreement on the legal status of these ancient properties has evaded governments and popes for decades.”The new state naturally inherited the obligation to respect and observe those rights created before it came into being,” said a Catholic expert on church relations with Israel, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Vatican was looking to safeguard its rights under international treaties and customs that date back before the establishment of the modern Jewish state, the jurist said.One Jerusalem building in dispute stands in a narrow alley outside the Old City walls. Its second storey is the Cenacle where Christians believe Jesus held the last supper. Jewish tradition says the floor below is the burial site of King David.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, head of the Israeli negotiating team, says the Vatican would like control of the Crusader-era building, which was a stop on Pope Benedict’s tour of Israel and the West Bank last year….