(JNS.org) Israel will not hand over sovereignty of select Christian sites, including the “Last Supper room,” during Pope Francis’s upcoming trip to the Jewish state.
“The State of Israel has no intention of signing with the Vatican, during the pope’s coming visit, an agreement to transfer the responsibility of sites like these or others, or other gestures,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday.
One of the areas of contention has been the status of the Cenacle—the traditional site of the Jesus’s Last Supper on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. But the building containing the Cenacle is also revered by Jews as the tomb of King David. Hundreds of religious Jews recently held a protest against the rumored transfer.
Last year, Israel and the Vatican signed an agreement that would allow the Vatican a special modicum of control over the site, including an official seat in the room.
Lior Haiat, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official who is handling public diplomacy activity for the papal visit, said the rumors surrounding the impeding transfer of sovereignty over the Last Supper room are “untrue.” Nevertheless, Israel has been in discussion with the Vatican over the status of Christian holy sites.
“We are having a very long negotiation process with the Vatican, not only on this issue, but on a lot of issues regarding the Vatican’s presence in Israel and the holy places,” Haiat told JNS.org.