Fifty years have elapsed since the first papal visit to Israel – that of pope Paul VI in 1964. Relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people as represented by the State of Israel have changed since then, and the fourth visit, of Pope Francis this week, is taking place in a different atmosphere than the first one. Yet for a significant part of Israeli Jewish society, it seems that tensions, mistrust and perhaps even a resurgence of old demons are on the rise.

In recent weeks, there have been unsubstantiated rumors about a secret agreement between Israel and the Vatican to hand the Cenacle – the room in which Jesus is believed to have eaten the Last Supper – over to Christian representatives in Jerusalem. The Cenacle is located on Mount Zion, in the same building where, according to Jewish tradition, King David is buried a story below; hence the tensions among religious Jewish activists.

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