07/12/2019, 14.49
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Jerusalem, Churches rise against Supreme Court over expropriation of Christian property

Religious leaders held a prayer ceremony, led by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III.  Also present were Msgr.  Marcuzzo and the custodian of the Holy Land.  The sale of three properties to the Jewish extremist group Ateret Cohanim, which intends to "Judaize" the holy city.  Preserving the integrity and Christian character of Jerusalem.


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The heads of the Churches of Jerusalem have promoted a prayer ceremony, as a sign of protest against the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to reject the appeal presented by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.  At the heart of the legal dispute, the disputed sale of three properties to a group of Jewish settlers.  A legal battle that has dragged on for some time in court and that, in the past, had led to disappointment and discontent among Christians.

Patriarchs, bishops and priests of the denominations of Jerusalem participated in the demonstration that took place yesterday afternoon at the Jaffa gate, one of the access points to the holy city.  Among these were the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III, Archbishop Aba Embakob, Archbishop Suheil Dawan, Msgr.  Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo and the custodian of the Holy Land Francesco Patton.

The protest, according to a note from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, ended inside the Imperial hotel, where Patriarch Teofilo gave a brief conference.  The Christian leader reiterated his opposition to initiatives by radical groups that end up distorting "the integrity and character of the Christian quarter of Jerusalem".  "The settlers - he added - want to take over our heritage".  He hoped that jusice and the rule of law would prevail in the face of attempts to dispossess ecclesiastical property, renewing the invitation to participate in the international day of prayer for the Christian communities of Jerusalem in September.

At the center of the controversy, the acquisition of three buildings belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church and now owned - according to what the judges have established - by the Jewish "extremist group" Ateret Cohanim.  In June, with a surprise decision due to the speed and manner in which it was taken, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, because the transaction took place through foreign intermediaries and no irregularities were registered.

The facilities are located in the Palestinian area of ​​Jerusalem, occupied and annexed by Israel.

In the past the Christian leaders of the Holy Land had already denounced the initiatives of the Jewish association, which has long promoted an employment campaign and acquisition of buildings in the Christian part of the old city.  According to the various Churches, there is not only an attack on "property rights", but also the "status quo that regulates relations between the different religious communities" and that could in the future become a "threat" for the very survival of Christians.

Ateret Cohanim wants to "Judaize" the holy city and, through intermediaries and third-party companies, has already taken over several real estate properties in the area.  The three buildings at the center of the controversy, which has dragged on for 14 years, are located near the Jaffa gate, one of the most used transit points by local Christians and pilgrims who want to reach the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher and other holy places.  With this sale, the company became the owner of the majority of the buildings located between the Jaffa Gate and the Arab market.

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