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Israel hands settlers ownership of church property in Jerusalem

August 2, 2017 at 11:48 am

People gather outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which was opened to worship after the restoration in Jerusalem on 22 March, 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

An Israeli military court ruled that settler groups have the right to seize two hotels and a large building in the Old City of Jerusalem which belongs to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

The Church said the Israeli Central Court yesterday accepted lawsuits filed by settler groups against it regarding the Petra and Imperial hotels and the house of Mu’amadiyah in the Jaffa Gate area of the Old City.

Jaffa Gate is the closest to the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the church owns several properties.

In a statement published yesterday, the Patriarchate condemned the court’s decision adding that the court based its decision on “a deal concluded illegally with the person responsible for the church’s financial department during the time of dismissed Patriarch Irenaios in 2004”.

Read: Greek Orthodox Church sells Jaffa Clock Tower

The Orthodox community in Palestine and Jordan had pressed the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to dismiss Patriarch Irenaios after it was revealed that he rented the properties to Jewish groups.

The Patriarchate said the court’s decision allows the settler groups to rent the properties for 99 years, adding that since the isolation of Patriarch Irenaios, the church took all measures and exhausted all efforts and judicial and financial resources to cancel the deal, but unfortunately, the court’s decision came as another setback suffered by the Patriarchate and Jerusalem in general.


It added that the new Patriarch, Theophilos III, will provide tenants in these properties with “full support to deal with this unjust attack”, adding that Christian properties suffer the same attacks and targeting as Islamic properties in Jerusalem.

It was not clear whether the Orthodox Church will go to the Supreme Court to appeal the decision.