Daily Israel Report

Elkin: Israel Not Negotiating with Vatican on King David's Tomb

Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin dismisses reports that Israel is planning to hand over control of the Tomb of King David to the Vatican.
By Shimon Cohen
First Publish: 7/18/2013, 5:15 AM

Visitors at King David's Tomb
Visitors at King David's Tomb
Flash 90

Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) on Wednesday dismissed recent reports that Israel is planning to hand over control of the Tomb of King David to the Vatican.

Responding to a question by MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), Elkin said that the Foreign Ministry has not signed nor does it intend to sign any agreement transferring all or parts of the tomb.

The Tomb of King David, located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, is also home to a church, which claims ownership of the site, more specifically of a room in the compound in which the Catholic Church claims the "Last Supper" occurred.

Several years ago, Jewish groups attempted to carry out improvements to the building, setting off protests from church leaders. More recently, the church requested permission from Israel to build a passageway through the Diaspora Yeshiva in order to enable visitors to more easily access a Christian site on the Mount.

Elkin said that there is a longstanding economic agreement between the Vatican and Israel. This agreement relates to taxes, fees, and individual claims on Vatican property and while there have been demands to include the “Last Supper” room as part of it, the Foreign Ministry has made it clear that control of the site will not be handed to the Vatican whatsoever.

Elkin added that he is unaware of any offer, not even on the part of the Vatican, to receive control of King David’s Tomb in exchange for lands owned by the Vatican around the Kinneret. Rumors of such an offer have recently appeared in hareidi-religious publications.

"Every detail regarding the Last Supper room was agreed upon in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior, and since then the subject has not been opened for discussion with the Vatican," said Elkin.