King David's Tomb to Remain in Israel's Hands
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Office (PMO) released a statement Thursday affirming that Israel will not, despite earlier reports, give away Mount Zion -- including King David's tomb -- to the Vatican.
"All publications claiming that Israel was considering giving away all or part of Mount Zion to the Catholic Church are not true and are fundamental lies," the PMO stated. "The Israeli government does not have and has never had any intention of doing so."
Confidants close to the PMO also explained to Arutz Sheva that the Vatican never turned to the Israeli government to ask for the land in the first place. While Mount Zion includes a number of sites important to Catholicism -- particularly the so-called Hall of the Last Supper, which is close to King David's Tomb -- the site will unequivocally remain in Israeli hands.
Meanwhile, most members of the Jerusalem City Council signed a document that requests the political leadership to stand firm against any possibility of giving David's Tomb away, reaffirming its sacred status to the Jewish people.
Several MKs also wrote to the PMO asking for Netanyahu to make a definitive statement on the issue.
"The foreign press recently published that the Israeli government is formulating a secret agreement to transfer Mount Zion, and the tomb of King David, to the Vatican," wrote MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism). "[Rumors say] that the transfer would be during Pope Francis's upcoming visit and even that the entire visit was planned with the precondition that the government would formally announce the transfer of the Mount to them [the Church]."
The Pope's upcoming visit to Israel, scheduled for May 24, 2014, has been a source for both excitement and controversy in the past several months. Rumors circulated earlier this month that the Pope's visit will be marked by a show of support for the Palestinian Arabs. Just Wednesday, Arab MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) sent a letter to the Vatican, asking for the Pope to intervene against the IDF's recruitment of Christian Arabs.