The Greek Orthodox Church on Tuesday denounced an Israeli court decision that upheld the rights of a Jewish settler organization to lease prime church property in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The church claims the rights were procured in a fraudulent deal.
In an advertisement published in Arabic in the the Al Quds newspaper, the Greek Patriarchate said the deal was conducted illegally under the watch of the previous patriarch — who was deposed as a result.
The patriarchate said in the advertisement that it would “exert all the efforts and legal and financial means to cancel this deal.”
The court’s decision — a declaratory judgment — affirmed the rights of three overseas holding companies for the Ateret Cohanim settler organization to lease two hotels and another property for 99 years, with the option to extend for another 99.
Ateret Cohanim works to acquire property to establish a Jewish presence throughout Jerusalem’s Old City and in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
It is anathema to Palestinians, who hope that these areas will one day be part of their future state.
The two hotels — the New Imperial and the Petra — are located prominently between the Jaffa Gate and the start of the Arab souk.
Once regal properties, they today primarily serve tour groups and backpackers.
The Jerusalem District Court ruled Monday that the contracts to lease the two hotels and an additional property had been signed by those authorized by the patriarchate to do so and that the investors had paid the full amount for the leases
The church was ordered to pay NIS 30,000 ($8,420) to the Ateret Cohanim group in legal costs.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.