Palestinian Greek Orthodox Church moves to block Jerusalem land sale

Patrice Gainsbourg
Agosto 13, 2017

The Greek Orthodox patriarch in the Holy Land announced Saturday that his church will appeal an Israeli court decision that approved the sale of prime church property to companies representing Jews seeking to expand their presence in Jerusalem's Old City. In a news conference in Jordan, Patriarch Theophilos III said Saturday that the lower court ruling was "politically motivated" and said the church would appeal to Israel's Supreme Court.

The church went to court against Ateret Cohanim, claiming the deals were inked illegally and without its authorisation.

"The church will do everything within its power so that this unjust ruling will be overturned", he said.

In 2005, Israel's Maariv daily newspaper reported that foreign Jewish investors had paid millions of dollars to buy two large properties just inside Jaffa Gate through a secret deal with the Greek Orthodox church.

The majority of Palestinian Christians in the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel, and Jordan are Greek Orthodox and belong to the church led by Theophilos.

Palestinian Greek Orthodox Church moves to block Jerusalem land sale

The Old City is part of east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians say that east Jerusalem must be the future capital of a Palestinian state. Since 1967, some 200,000 Jews have settled in east Jerusalem neighborhoods built for them by successive Israeli governments, making partition increasingly hard. They also own the land that the Knesset, Israel's parliament, is built on.

He urged the heads of churches to find a joint response to "this alarming and serious development" that he said will affect Christians in the region and around the world. He called on world leaders to intervene.

The Greek Orthodox patriarch said his church is going to appeal the District Court's ruling, which he said will have a grave negative impact on Christian presence in the Holy Land, at the Israeli Supreme Court.

Critics have repeatedly demanded that the church provide details on its holdings, but the church on Saturday declined to comment.

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