Monday, May 04, 2009

Peres pushing gov't to yield key Christian sites to the Vatican

From THE JERUSALEM POST, May. 4, 2009:

President Shimon Peres wants to yield key Christian holy sites to the Vatican, according to an Army Radio report Monday, a proposition which is reportedly opposed by Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

According to the report, the issue ruffled feathers among senior Israeli officials.

The president on Monday continued to pressure the government to give up control of six sites including the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Coenaculum on Mount Zion and the Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and the Church of the Multiplication on the Kinneret.

"If we were sure that this present to the Christian world would bring millions of Christian pilgrims here, then we would have a good reason to think about it," Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov was quoted as saying. "But since we're not sure that it will happen, why should we give out gifts?"

The Army Radio report also quoted the president's office as saying that the negotiations had been going on for long enough, and that the time had come to compromise with the Vatican and come to an agreement. [Why has "the time come"? ...what's happened? - SL]

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to arrive for a visit to the Holy Land on May 11.

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