King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion was the focus of major controversy last summer when it was reported that, under pressure from the Vatican, Israel was preparing to hand over or sell control of the holy site to the Catholic Church.
The site is also holy to Christians, as the second floor of the compound is home to a more modern representation of the “Upper Room.”
In March an Italian newspaper reported that the Israeli government had in fact reached an agreement whereby the Vatican would take control of the Upper Room, while the building itself, and therefore King David’s Tomb, would remain still be owned by the Jewish state.
The situation was unacceptable to religious Jewish authorities, who noted that the arrangement would in effect transform the building into a church, thereby making it ritualistically impossible for Jews to worship anywhere on the premises.
Rabbi Eldad Shmueli told Arutz 7 that he subsequently made a call for all Jews visiting and praying at the Western Wall to also visit the nearby Tomb of David.
“To our delight the Israeli public has visited en masse, the publication of the agreement with the Vatican has given us a boost [in attendance] – there are many [Torah] lessons, prayers,” said Rabbi Shmueli. “The place is alive and vibrant – everyone should come here and help maintain the spiritual essence of this place.”