Is Israel planning to cede the site of the Last Supper to the Vatican?

Published 03 May 2014  |  

A member of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, has reported that Israel is seriously considering ceding the site of the Last Supper to the Vatican.

The news was leaked at a tour of the Tomb of David, which the site of Last Supper sits above, by four members of the Knesset who insisted that they would do everything they could to keep the site under Israeli control.

It was reported that there have been conversations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef.

It is alleged that the PM's office contacted Rabbi Yosef with the aim of encouraging him to grant traditional Jewish legal permission, known as Halakhic permission, for the transfer of the Tomb to Vatican control.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin has spoken in the Knesset to deny that such negotiations have been ongoing. However, the Israeli government has recently given the office of the PM ultimate authority for the country's holy sites, further fuelling speculation.

Mr Elkin has also denied rumours that there is a possibility that Israel would cede any of Mount Zion to the Vatican or any other party.

One of the Knesset members on the tour, Yoni Chetboun, was quoted in Israel National News as saying: "For many years, the Vatican has been investing large sums in purchasing assets in Jerusalem, with the purpose of blurring the city's Jewish character.

"This trend must be blocked, and the Basic Law on Jerusalem, which forbids handing over sovereignty on parts of the city to foreign entities, must be enforced.

"Today's tour is only the beginning of the struggle, and we will bring more MKs here. The Tomb of David is a cornerstone of the city's Jewish history, we must safeguard it."

Pope Francis is due to visit the holy sites of Christianity in Israel in less than a month. He is expected to discuss the ongoing negotiations for a long-awaited juridical pact between Israel and the Vatican.

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