JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel's Chief Rabbinate spoke out against turning over properties in Israel to the Vatican.
"This unprecedented historical disgrace threatens the very existence of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish nation," read a statement issued by the Chief Rabbinate, following an emergency meeting to discuss the matter.
"Rabbis from Jewish communities around the world expressed their shock and amazement over reports of negotiations on the possible transfer of holy sites in Jerusalem and throughout all of Israel to the Vatican's control," the statement read.
Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook, who took part in the meeting, said the Pope has asked the Israeli government to transfer control of 28 sites in Jerusalem and 19 in Judea and Samaria (The West Bank).
"They cannot ask for places that were conquered during the Crusades 800 years ago because they have belonged to us for more than 2,000 years," Rabbi Kook told YNet news.
"The fact that we conquered (East Jerusalem) in 1967 is irrelevant, just as the (American) Indians can't banish (President Barack) Obama from Washington," the rabbi said.
Should the Vatican be given sovereignty over the "upper room" on Mt. Zion, where the last Seder meal (called the Last Supper by Christians) between Jesus and His disciples may have taken place, the potential exists to prevent access to the Kotel (Western Wall) to Jews.
"Millions of Christian pilgrims will flock to the site and this will threaten our very presence in the (Old City's) Jewish Quarter and even our access to the Kotel," he said.
Neither is Rabbi Kook unaware of the Pope's predisposition to the Palestinians.
"He only supports the Palestinians and hasn't said a word about the eight years of terror Israel's southern region has endured (in rocket attacks) or about the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust," Rabbi Kook said.
"There is a memorial for the Holocaust victims on Mount Zion and now they (the government) want to give the site to someone who has people working for him who deny the Holocaust ever took place," he said.
Rabbi Dov Lior, who heads up the Yesha (Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip) rabbinical council also issued a statement saying it was "unthinkable to hand over to the Vatican any part of our holy land."
"The Church's outlook on Judaism and the Israeli people did not change following the establishment of the State of Israel," the statement read.
"Should the Vatican recognize the Land of Israel as the Jews' historical and national homeland, it will be possible to bring the religions closer together," Rabbi Lior said.
"We expect the Pope to apologize for the Church's responsibility for the murder of millions of Jews over the past 2,000 years," he said.
Meanwhile, some Israelis plan to demonstrate during the Pope's visit.
"Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, for 3,000 years and forever. It doesn't belong to the Pope or anyone else and we're not here to divide it," said Bob Kunst of Shalom International, who is helping to organize the protests.
Source: YNet news