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  7/17/2013, Av 10, 5773

MK Refuses to Turn Over King David's Tomb to Vatican


Deputy Foreign Minister MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud - Yisrael Beiteinu) rejected reports that the government was negotiating to give away the King David's Tomb area in Jerusalem to the Vatican. He said the negotiations concerned only existing taxes and tax issues.

For decades several large churches in the area have sought to buy up land on Mount Zion just outside the Old City of Jerusalem. The quaint area is home to a series of large underground caverns where tradition says King David is buried. The site attracts countless Jewish pilgrims throughout the year, especially on Shavuot.

Mount Zion is home to the country's first Holocaust Museum called the Chamber of the Holocaust, the first baal teshuvah yeshiva, the Diaspora Yeshiva, the President's Room which was used by President Yitzchak Ben Zvi and other historic Israeli sites. Under the President's Room is a room called the Room of the Last Supper, which many believe to be historically linked with events from Christian scriptures. There have been major plans proposed by both the Vatican as well as other Christian groups to purchase the Jewish owned structures, remove them and renovate the area as a massive Christian tourist center.

Precedent for such a move has been set in recent years with the relinquishing of the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. The large Terra Sancta Building in downtown Jerusalem that once served as dormitories for Hebrew University students was also reinstated to Christian foreigners.