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Israel to grant Vatican control of site of Last Supper?

May 01, 2014

An Israeli lawmaker claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken with Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef about the possibility of ceding the Tomb of David— located in an old church building that is also revered by Christians as the site of the Last Supper—to the Vatican.

The report—which has not been confirmed by the Israeli government—comes after earlier rumors that the government was engaged in secret negotiations with the Vatican about future control of the site.

The Tomb of David is on the ground floor of the building in Jerusalem, which dates back to the 4th century. The Cenacle, the site of the Last Supper, is on the upper floor. Rules regarding access to the holy sites have been under discussion as part of the broader talks between the Holy See and Israel, aimed to conclude an agreement establishing the legal status of the Church in Israel. However, last July the Israeli deputy foreign minister, Zeev Elkin, denied rumors that the government was prepared to recognize Vatican ownership of the building.

Negotiations on the long-awaited juridical pact between the Vatican and Israel are a focus of renewed interest as Pope Francis plans for his visit to the Holy Land later this month.


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