ISRAEL - Jews Buy Greek Orthodox Property

Arno Froese

The Jerusalem District Court has denied a final request by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to block the sale of church property in Jerusalem’s Old City to the right-wing NGO Ateret Cohanim, according to Haaretz.

The appeal was filed by the patriarchate after the church sold the land to Ateret Cohanim in 2004. The NGO is a Jewish group that legally purchases Arab-owned property in east Jerusalem.

In a scandal that rocked the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, then Greek patriarch Irenaios denied knowledge of the sale at the time and claimed it was void, then backtracked and said it was the work of the church’s director of finance, Nicholas Papadimas, without the church’s authorization.

The ruling is the final blow in the church’s 16-year legal battle against the sale. Ateret Cohanim may now have the right to evict Palestinians who currently possess the Imperial Hotel and the Petra Hotel. The two hotels are located near the Jaffa Gate in the Christian and Armenian Quarters of the Old City.

Part of the court’s denial of the retrial request mentioned that the church had produced the affidavit too late in the proceedings, as the allegations had already been reported by Haaretz two and a half years ago, meaning the church could have obtained his testimony before the trial.

Judge Moshe Bar-Am also ruled that Bloomfield’s allegations didn’t relate directly to the 2004 sale and were instead related to prior business contacts that never produced results.

The efforts to cancel the sale of the property also included diplomatic pressure on Israel. Russian President Valdimir Putin raised the issue during a visit to Israel in January, according to Haaretz., 27 June 2020

Arno's commentary

A property sale is a relatively simple procedure; not so when it happens in Israel, and particularly in Jerusalem. The sale by the Greek Orthodox Church of 50 hectares in central Jerusalem, with about 1,000 housing units, seems to be finalized.

According to another source, the church owns property worth up 700 billion euros, and that is more than double the country’s national debt. Yet the Greek state pays the salaries and pensions of all Orthodox clerics in the country. The official headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church is Jerusalem, and the official languages are Greek, Arabic, English, and Hebrew.

The church claimed its independence in 451 AD from the metropolis of Caesarea. Thus, we see this is not a simple sale, issuing a new title of ownership; rather, history is being touched.

It was 30 July 1980 when the Jerusalem law was implemented, effectively annexing East Jerusalem. However, in reality, there is still an East and a West Jerusalem. Thus, Jews have been trying for many decades—often successfully—to buy as much property in the eastern part as possible. The annexation declaration by Israel is considered one-sided by the United Nations and not accepted by the majority of nations.

There is much more about Jerusalem, but what is decisive are the words of the Bible. “Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain” (Zechariah 8:3).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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