Daily Israel Report

Chief Rabbi Rejects Reports Israel Giving Away King David's Tomb

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef says transfer request for King David's Tomb to Vatican 'never happened,' would not be considered at all.
By Shimon Cohen and Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/11/2014, 6:31 PM

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef
Flash 90

The office of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, the Rishon LeZion Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, utterly rejected Sunday all reports stating that Israel is considering giving away King David's Tomb to the Vatican.

Last week, MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas) claimed in an Arutz Sheva interview that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself asked Rabbi Yosef about the halakhic [Jewish law] ramifications of giving away the tomb, which sits on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. 

Netanyahu later rejected the claim as "baseless"; the Rabbi's office stated that no such request had been handed to them by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) at all and that any such requests would not even be investigated in principle. 

Foreign Ministry officials recently claimed, once again, that a request had been submitted to the Rabbinate - amidst a flurry of tensions over the issue and several rumors stating that the land is still on the negotiating table. Rabbi Yosef's spokesman, David Amar, replied Sunday by stating that "never happened" and that "there was no appeal." 

Amar added that the issue has also been discussed with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Western Wall Rabbi and the legal and religious authority in Israel for a number of holy sites. The Rabbi rejected the concept outright, saying it was "out of the question." 

Concerns over a possible transfer of the property have been raised multiple times over the past several months. Last month, an Israeli diplomatic source told Arutz Sheva that the Israeli government has no intention of transferring control over the site to the Church. 

However, Rabbi Yaakov Sevilia, an activist for King David's Tomb, told Arutz Sheva that there is a deal in the works - which would see David's Tomb given to Christians, and the Temple Mount to Muslims. He cited journalist Gulio Meotti, who contributes regularly to Arutz Sheva, as the source for this knowledge.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) has also written a stern letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the issue, noting its political significance in terms of Israel's history and heritage. 

"It is inconceivable that this place will be transferred to foreign hands, such the Torahs and the Star of David will be swallowed in a sea of crosses," the Deputy Minister wrote.

''Transferring the rights to the gravesite of David to Christian hands would be similar to Moshe Dayan's decision to entrust the keys to the Temple Mount to the Jordanian Waqf."

Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook, Rabbi of Rehovot and member of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, warned recently that the government relinquishing David's Tomb to the Vatican would be a "national disgrace." 

He added that the issue has incredible religious implications. "Who knows if this could cause a wave of conversions [to Catholicism]?" he continued. "What will happen in the World to Come when we have to testify [before G-d] and say that we lived in a generation which handed over King David's Tomb? A government who does such a thing is forbidden to belong to the people of Israel, this is an anti-Israeli government."