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American-Jewish businessman buys Orthodox Patriarchate land in Jerusalem

A view of Church of All Nations from At-Tur (Mount of Olives) in Jerusalem on 12 October 2021 [Mustafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
A church in Jerusalem on 12 October 2021 [Mustafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

American-Jewish businessman, Gary Brent, owner of the American Extell Development Company has concluded a deal to buy lands owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the Occupied city of Jerusalem for NIS 750 million ($220 million) from its current owners, Nayot Komemiyut Investments.

The lands include about 1,000 housing units, and a five-star Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem's neighbourhoods of Talbiyeh, Rehavia and Nayot.

Nayot Komemiyut Investments was founded in 2010 and bought the Patriarchate's land for 115 million shekels from the Jewish National Fund (KKL) and is now selling it for 750 million shekels.

KKL owns the lease on the land up to 2052.

In 2000, a broker named Yaakov Rabinowitz, with the assistance of David Morgenstein, claimed they would be able to extend the lease for a $20 million fee.

KKL transferred the amount to Rabinowitz, who later turned out to have been a fraudulent operator and fled the country after receiving the money. The contract was eventually annulled by the court, and Morgenstein and Rabinowitz were convicted and sent to prison.

In 2016, the Church sold its ownership over the lands to Nayot Komemiyut, a group of investors led by lawyer, Noam Ben-David. Following the transaction, Ben-David and his partners settled a side dispute with KKL, becoming the owner of all the church land, including more than a thousand apartments.

At the end of 2021, the Central Court in Jerusalem imposed a fine of $13 million on the Patriarchate, which demanded that the sale deal be cancelled arguing that it was a fraudulent deal.

READ: Is Jordan really the custodian of Jerusalem's holy sites?

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