The Vatican has issued a reminder of unfinished business in Palestine, and especially Jerusalem:-

Historic Vatican accord with Palestine takes effect

The Vatican's first accord with the Palestinians -- an agreement that Israel has attacked as counter-productive to the Middle East peace process -- has come into force, the Holy See announced Saturday. . .

The accord covers the operation of the Church in areas of the Holy Land under Palestinian control but its significance has been seen in broader terms as a symbol of growing international backing for a Palestinian state. . .

The Church has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993 but has yet to conclude an agreement on Christian rights there. Negotiations on the subject have been running since 1999 but have repeatedly run into deadlock over the status of Jerusalem.

It is interesting to note that within one year after relations were established between the Holy See and Israel in 1993 Foreign Minister Shimon Peres twice presented plans to the papacy which if implemented would have established Rome's presence in Jerusalem. This has been the Church of Rome's objective, so the failure to follow through on the plans could not have been the Vatican's fault. There was a time when Israeli opposition to Rome's objective of planting the flag of the Vatican in Jerusalem could be attributed to theological animosity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews; but this has changed dramatically since the papacy of John-Paul II:

Pope John Paul II: Relations with Jews and Israel

While Wojtyla was a bishop, he took part in the historic Second Vatican Council convened by Pope John XXIII, which modernized aspects of church practice and doctrine. The Council also radically changed the Church’s relationship with the Jewish people when it issued the Nostra Aetate declaration in 1965, which cleared Jews of responsibility for the death of Jesus, renounced its traditional claim that Jews had been rejected by God, condemned anti-Semitism, and called for “mutual understanding and respect” between Catholics and Jews. As Pope, John Paul II would turn these words into actions.

After his election as pope in October 1978, John Paul often devoted his energy to improving relations between Jews and Catholics. He frequently met with Jewish leaders, repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism, commemorated the Holocaust, and established diplomatic relations with Israel. . .

In 1994, John Paul established full diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Israel. He said, “For the Jewish people who live in the State of Israel and who preserve in that land such precious testimonies to their history and their faith, we must ask for the desired security and the due tranquility that are the prerogative of every nation ...” . . .

While many of John Paul’s teachings about the Jews have become official church policy, even he recognized that differences would remain. In a 1985 speech, the Pope took some credit for helping bury ignorance, prejudice and stereotypes about Jews, but he also acknowledged that Catholics and Jews would continue to have disagreements. “Love involves understanding,” he said. “It also involves frankness and the freedom to disagree in a brotherly way where there are reasons for it."

In addition, while John Paul was regarded warmly by Jews, not all of his statements and actions were sympathetic. He was, for example, frequently critical of Israeli actions, and largely silent on the mistreatment of Christians by Arabs and Muslims. In February 2000, the Pope and Yasser Arafat issued a joint condemnation of any unilateral decision that would “change the unique character of Jerusalem,” terming such a decision “legally and morally invalid.” Arafat and the Pope, meeting in the Vatican, called for an international status to be granted to Jerusalem.

Always we see Jerusalem figuring largely in the thinking of the Popes. Their advocacy of an international status for the City (in which they plan to play a major part) is anathema first to the right-wing Zionist governments of Israel:

Israeli far-right still blocking peace 20 years after Rabin

The recent spike in incidents comes after Israeli police stormed the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem in September, clashing with Palestinian worshippers as they cleared the site to make way for ultra-orthodox Jews wishing to mark the Jewish new year holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The Al Aqsa Mosque, referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount, is a significant symbol for Palestinians and one of the holiest places in Islam. It is also sacred for Jews as it is believed to have once been the site of the ancient Temple of Solomon, which was destroyed by the Babylonians 2,000 years ago. According to international agreements, the site is administered by the Palestinian Al Waqf foundation, which is supervised by Jordan. . .

In the escalating violence, over 70 Palestinians and a dozen Israelis were killed in the month of October alone. Around half of the Palestinians casualties reportedly occurred while they were attacking Israelis. Among measures introduced to quell the violence, Arab sectors in the Israeli occupied East Jerusalem were sealed off, while Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on Israelis to carry firearms with them at all times.

Meanwhile, the Israeli far-right has been calling for a return to the policies enforced during the
second intifada, with Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party, both ministers in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, organising demonstrations outside the prime minister’s residence on Oct. 5. Ministers Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Haim Katz and opposition Yisrael Beitenu party head Avigdor Liberman were also in attendance along with 10,000 Israelis.

Today, Netanyahu, like his late predecessor Rabin, is caught in a dilemma regarding his domestic and international obligations. While under pressure by the international community to cooperate in the peace process, the Israeli far-right, to whom he is indebted for his re-election as prime minister this year, continues to bang the drums of war against the Palestinians. . .

At the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Oct. 20, Netanyahu went as far as absolving Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler of the Holocaust by blaming then-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, for giving Hitler the idea of exterminating millions of Jewish people during World War II. His comments were not only denounced by the Israeli opposition and the Palestinians, they were also rebuked by the West, with Germany reaffirming its responsibility for the Holocaust. Although Netanyahu later denied trying to absolve Hitler, the damage had already been done.

Nevertheless, with such rhetoric Netanyahu continues to appease the increasingly restless Israeli far-right at the expense of the peace process and Western creditors.

The advocacy of an international status for Jerusalem is also anathema to the Christian Zionist Religious Right in the United States:

When defending his community, Revivi may prefer legal arguments to religious ones. But the offhand reference to holy scripture shared by both Christians and Jews hints at a longstanding — but often unreported — transnational religious connection: Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister, is credited with cementing the relationship between Israel and Evangelical Christians in the United States, openly courting the support of what are often called “Christian Zionists.”

To see evidence of this legacy, one need only look down the road. Efrat is home to the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, an organization that regularly hosts evangelical groups and leaders from the United States.

Taken at face value, conservative Christian support for Israeli settlements seems innocuous, or at the very least unsurprising — after all, the same land was Jesus’ home too.

But over the past few decades, the American Religious Right’s actions in the region have extended far beyond the broad consensus endorsing Israel’s right to exist, morphing instead into a form of faith-based activism that makes the area’s multitudinous issues more complicated. Often with the blessing of conservative politicians, funders, and pundits, right-wing Christian and Jewish groups in the United States have consistently offered financial assistance for the construction and maintenance of settlements in the West Bank that international law says are illegal, as well as lending support to fringe “outposts” that even the Israeli government often does not formally recognize. These constructions are passionately opposed by Palestinians, the international community, and the United States, which has repeatedly called them a “barrier to peace.” . . .

Support for Israeli settlements in the U.S. goes back decades, with many pro-settlement organizations springing to life after the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993. Groups quickly formed as American nonprofits to take advantage of tax-exempt status, accepting donations and shuttling them across the Green Line — the border between Israel and the West Bank. The legality of this practice was briefly challenged in a 1991 federal lawsuit, but the IRS did not side with those who opposed it, and the tax-exempt groups won the court case and an appeal. . .

However, several other organizations are explicitly Christian in their language and outlook. One example is Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), a small but well-funded organization based in Colorado Springs, Colorado dedicated to providing “a much needed vehicle for Christians to become better informed about the Jewish communities in the heartland of Biblical Israel, to visit these areas and to provide practical support for vital community needs.” The terminology used by the CFOIC website makes their political and theological perspective clear: It does not refer to the West Bank except in quotation marks, instead using the biblical phrase “Judea and Samaria” to describe the occupied land East of the Green Line between Israel and Jordan. It also does not use the term “settlements,” preferring to call towns in the West Bank “Jewish communities” populated by “pioneers,” and does not appear to mention Palestinian Christian communities currently living in the occupied territories. . .

Guided by dispensationalist theology

The key to comprehending why CFOIC and other Christian groups prop up Israeli settlements lies in their curious shared theology, particularly a school of thought known as “dispensationalism.” An old Christian theological concept with a variety of interpretations, dispensationalism’s core idea is that God promised the Jewish people the land of Israel in the Old Testament. Many dispensationalists also believe the Jewish return to the Holy Land signals the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. . .

The American conservative movement…for settlements

In addition to direct donations, this movement — a spiritual fusion of settlement support, dispensationalism, and Christian Zionism — is shored up by a broad network of American political funders and elected officials. This powerful community was once bipartisan, and support for Israel broadly — specifically its right to exist and defend itself — largely remains as such, bolstered by the efforts of groups such as The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), whose official stance on settlements is somewhat vague. But the hardline pro-settlement caucus is now squarely rooted (with a few exceptions) in the Republican party’s base, especially among religious conservatives. . .

Fellow GOP presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz also visited Israel this year, where he met with politicians and spoke to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament. He has generally articulated a more hands-off approach to settlements than Huckabee’s, but still de facto endorses the status quo by leaving the issue up to the Israeli government. . .

Although Cruz hasn’t claimed to be a hardline dispensationalist, other dispensationalists have already lifted him up as one of their own. When he declared that “Christians have no greater ally than Israel” during a deeply controversial speech to Middle East Christians in October 2014, Rob McCoy, senior pastor of Godspeak Calvary told the Washington Times that Cruz was effectively speaking in religious code. (Cf. Ted Cruz’s Faith Is Under Fire. Here’s The Story Behind His Religious Beliefs)

This all presents a complicated picture, which becomes even more complicated in light of the following:-

Reflecting on the Vatican’s Jewish-Catholic relations ‘Reflection’

On the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Nostra Aetate declaration, the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews published a text titled, “For the Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable: A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of ‘Nostra Aetate’ (No. 4).” At the core of the new document, experts say, is the Church’s rejection of both replacement theology and the notion that the covenant of the Jews with God has been negated.

In 1965, Nostra Aetate marked the Vatican’s rescinding of an age-old belief that the Jewish people were guilty for the crucifixion of Jesus, in addition to the Church’s rejection of all forms of anti-Semitism.

“As a result of a soul change, epitomized by Nostra Aetate, the Roman Catholic Church shifted from what was, for the most part, a need to condemn Judaism to one of a condemnation of anti-Judaism,” said Dr. Edward Kessler, founder of the Woolf Institute think tank and a fellow at St. Edmunds College in Cambridge, United Kingdom, who participated in a panel discussion with the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Rabbi David Rosen to provide a Jewish response to the new Vatican document.

Rosen, AJC’s international director of interreligious affairs, said during the panel that Nostra Aetate “opened up the way for subsequent popes to further affirm the unique bond between the Church and the Jewish people which this [new] text documents, and to see Jewry as a living source of divine inspiration for the Church.” . .

The three primary topics addressed in the document are the “old” covenant, salvation, and evangelization. “Reflection” completely rejects the theology known as supersessionism, or replacement theology, and affirms that God’s “new” covenant for Christians does not negate the “old” covenant with Jews.

“If this term (supersessionism) is understood to mean that Jewish covenantal life with God was ended or replaced by the Church’s covenanting with God in Christ, then this document rejects it. It repeats several times that the Church did not replace Jews as a people of God and that Jewish covenantal life with God was never abrogated,” Cunningham told

“The document sees Christianity as in continuity with biblical Israel, and indeed as ‘fulfilling’ terms of Israel’s covenanting, but, again, not in the sense of rendering Jewish covenantal life or Jewish traditions as obsolete or antiquated. It doesn’t define exactly what it means by ‘fulfillment,’” said Cunningham. . .

The document also addresses “the thorny issue of how to understand the fact that Jews are saved without believing explicitly in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and Son of God,” Koch said.

Cunningham said that “without ever exactly defining ‘salvation,’ the document makes it clear that Jews [are in a] covenant with a saving God.”

“It also asserts that Christ is involved in the salvation of all people, which in a mysterious way also applies to Jews,” he said, noting how this does not mean that Jews must be baptized to be “saved.”

Regarding evangelism, the text says that the Catholic Church “neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews,” though Christians are still called on to “bear witness to the faith.”

Cunningham said that broadly speaking, Catholics “understand ‘evangelization’ to include any activity that spreads the ‘good news’ of Christ and prepares the way for the coming of the reign of God.” According to this understanding, evangelization can include proselytization, but can also include many other activities such as interfaith dialogue. . .

Betty Ehrenberg, executive director for the World Jewish Congress in North America, told that the Vatican document “represents the fruits of a productive longterm dialogue between the Catholic and Jewish communities” and “reflects the development of a mutual understanding that did not exist 50 years ago.

“The fact that the document asserts that the Torah serves as the instruction for Jewish life and that there should be no missionizing to the Jews are statements, in addition to others in the paper, that our community has long waited to hear,” said Ehrenberg, who has worked extensively with the Vatican on Jewish-Catholic relations.

“In the course of our 40-year dialogue,” she said, “there were many ups and downs, yet we persisted in our unrelenting efforts to speak to one another and to forge a relationship. This important Vatican paper represents our mutual determination to find those common threads that bind people of faith. This is a very important moment in our shared history.” (Underscored emphasis added.)

It is interesting to note how the Vatican has moved close to all Jews (religious, secular, or Zionist) who cling to their "chosen people" convictions, and in any event harbor a belief in a biblical right to the land of Palestine. They also in general resent Christian proselytization.

There is one name which figures prominently in all of the reports surrounding the process of reconciliation between the Roman Catholics and the Jews - Rabbi David Rosen. This man wields tremendous influence which may very likely have an impact on the political impasse in the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians:

Rabbi David Rosen

Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee and Director of AJC's Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding. He is a past chairman of IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

Rabbi Rosen also serves as the Advisor on Interreligious Affairs to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; is a member of the Chief Rabbinate's delegation for Interreligious Dialogue; and serves on the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.

He is an International President of the World Conference of Religion for Peace (WCRP), the all-encompassing world inter-faith body; Honorary President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ); a member of the Executive of the World Council of Religious Leaders; of the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s Board of World Religious Leaders; and a trustee of the Coexist Foundation. He has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis and as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum's Council for promoting relations and cooperation between the Muslim and Western worlds.

Rabbi Rosen was recently appointed as the only Jewish member of the Board of Directors of the King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, established by the King of Saudi Arabia together with the governments of Austria and Spain.

He was a member of the Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the Fundamental Agreement between the two, leading to the establishment of full bilateral relations in 1994.

In November 2005, Pope Benedict XVI made Rabbi Rosen a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great for his contribution to promoting Catholic-Jewish reconciliation; and in 2010 he was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to interfaith relations. . .

Rome has also concurrently moved closer to the Christian Zionists by conceding that the Jews have a continuing covenant relationship with God, although there are Christian Zionists who are committed to proselytizing the Jews. Rapprochement between the Roman Catholics and the Christian Zionists may be a major path to resolving the conflict in Palestine which blocks the Vatican's way into Jerusalem. The Roman Catholics are working assiduously to usher in "the reign of God." The dispensationalist Christian Zionists are committed to ushering in the "Kingdom of God" in this world. Both are in rejection of, and in opposition to, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is not of this world (John 18:36.) Here is a remarkable demonstration of the working of the spirits of Rev. 16:13-14.