Jerusalem for sale: Christians fight transfer of church land to settlers

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) leads the traditional Washing of the Feet ceremony during the Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON

Palestinian Christians have pledged to fight against the sale of church land in East Jerusalem to Israeli settlers amid a dispute that has roiled the Greek Orthodox church. Church members told MEE that protest action and, if necessary, occupation of the sites were the last options available to prevent the transfer of three properties in East Jerusalem’s Old City from going ahead, after a court ruled the sale was legal.

A Jerusalem district court ruled last week that the controversial 2004 deal, which had faced allegations of bribery and fraud, was legal. Ateret Cohanim, a far-right Israeli settler group that aims to create a Jewish majority in the Old City, are the buyers of the three properties. Their involvement caused intense anger among Palestinians when news of the deal broke in 2005.

Current church Patriarch Theophilos III has sought to distance himself from the deal, which was signed during the reign of his predecessor Irenaios. Irenaios was deposed from his position and demoted to the rank of monk when the deal was revealed in 2005.
Read details in Middle East Eye