After intense and lengthy negotiations, Israel and the Vatican formally recognized each other and signed an agreement on 30 December 1993 to establish diplomatic relations. The agreement was signed first in the Vatican and then in Jerusalem.
   On 15 June 1994, Israel and the Vatican announced agreement on opening full diplomatic relations. They agreed to exchange ambassadors and open embassies. Until then, the Vatican had withheld formal recognition of Israel, citing such issues as the state's disputed borders, the unsettled status of Jerusalem, and concerns about the protection of Catholic institutions under Israeli law. The Vatican had also called on Israel to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. The agreement also opened the way for an increased Vatican role in the Arab-Israeli peace process. For Israel, there was some expectation that the agreement would help eliminate anti-Semitism. In January 1996, the Vatican published documents showing that during the last years of World War II, it opposed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.
   During the papacy of Pope John Paul II, there was a legacy of mending ties between Christians and the Vatican and Israel. The pope repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism as a sin against God and man. He also described Jews as the Church's "dearly beloved elder brothers." During his tenure, Israel and the Vatican exchanged ambassadors.
   In March 2000, John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Israel (as well as to the Palestinian territories and to Jordan). In January 2004, Pope Paul II held a historic first meeting at the Vatican with Israel's chief rabbis (Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Yona Metzger), during which the pontiff was asked to join in the fight against of terrorism and anti-Semitism.
   See also Foreign Policy; Religion.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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