Israel said it had “no intention” of giving the Vatican sovereignty over a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, in the wake of protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews ahead of Pope Francis’s visit this month.
“Contrary to rumors in Israel, there is no intention to transfer to the Vatican sovereignty or ownership on the Tomb of David or the Cenacle,” Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican, Zion Evrony, said in a speech obtained on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman also dispelled rumors of a deal during the pope’s upcoming visit.
“The State of Israel has no intention of signing with the Vatican, during the pope’s coming visit, on an agreement to transfer the responsibility of sites like these or others, or other gestures,” Liberman said.
The Cenacle is the reputed scene of Jesus’s last supper, and the pope is planning to hold a mass on the site on Mount Zion near the walls of the Old City.
Jews revere the site as the tomb of Kind David, which is on the ground floor of the same building. It is also important for Muslims.