Israeli Ministry Reverses Decision

An Israeli Ministry of Finance decision to seize the funds of several Catholic institutions in Israel in order to force them to comply with taxation regulations was reversed June 8 after several hours of bewilderment. “The tax assessor was of the opinion that he should collect the relevant taxes, but as a result of consultations with the chief legal advisor of the Israel Tax Authority, it was decided that the matter fell within the framework of the status quo and the situation was rectified,” said an official with the Ministry of Finance. “The status quo as stipulated in the Fundamental Agreement between the state of Israel and the Holy See is being fully maintained by the state of Israel,” he added. Israel and the Holy See are in the final stages of negotiations on an agreement about the financial status of the church in Israel. The parties met most recently on April 30, just prior to Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

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