Daily Israel Report

Liberman Denies King David's Tomb Transfer

Foreign Minister vehemently denies reports, amidst ongoing controversy over papal visit.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/13/2014, 1:57 PM

Scenes from protests against David's Tomb transfer to the Vatican
Scenes from protests against David's Tomb transfer to the Vatican
Flash90

The Knesset Committee for Foreign Affairs discussed the controversy surrounding a possible transfer of King David's Tomb to the Vatican on Tuesday, after an emotional protest Monday night outside the holy site. 

During the debate, MK Meir Porush (UTJ) turned to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and asked whether or not the rumors were true. Apparently, Liberman denied the reports. 

"The Foreign Minister replied emphatically that there is no substance to the rumors that Israel going to hand over parts of David's Tomb to the Vatican during the Pope's visit," a statement from Porush's office said. 

Monday, hundreds of hareidi Jews gathered outside King David's Tomb, which is located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, to protest a rumored land transfer. 

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; those claims were reiterated Sunday, by the office of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. 

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, so that 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."

Pope Francis will visit the Holy Land from May 24-26 and before returning to Rome is set to hold a mass in at the site.

The issue is one of several controversies accompanying the visit. The Jerusalem Catholic Patriarchate has voiced concerns over alleged "price tag" attacks on Israeli churches, and there has been disagreement in Lebanon as to whether a Maronite cleric may travel to Jerusalem to see the Pope, or whether such a move would support Israel in some way.