Israel Says Pact on Cenacle Depends on Christians

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 15, 2004 ( Control of the Cenacle of Jerusalem, scene of Jesus’ last supper, will be turned over if Israel and the Christian groups of the Holy Land can reach an agreement, an Israeli official said.

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Interior Minister Abraham Poraz told Vatican Radio that the place in which Pentecost also took place was one of the issues discussed in his meetings with Vatican representatives.

Poraz met Tuesday with a Vatican delegation headed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The Israeli also spoke with John Paul II at Castel Gandolfo.

The Cenacle, Poraz explained, «was in the hands of Catholics until 500 years ago, when it was taken by the Muslims.»

«The problem right now is that there is a discussion, a debate among churches in Jerusalem,» he said. It «would be easy to solve the problem if there is an agreement among the churches in Jerusalem about how to handle this issue.»

If there is no agreement, the Israeli interior minister has offered to mediate.

The Cenacle building is occupied by a yeshiva, or Hebrew religious school. It was used by Muslims until 1948. From 1335 to 1551 it was the Franciscan convent of Mount Zion and original headquarters of the Custody of the Holy Land.

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