Jerusalem Greek Orthodox leader slams Israel pro-settler ruling

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, center, speaks during a press conference in Amman on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2017
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Jerusalem Greek Orthodox leader slams Israel pro-settler ruling

AMMAN: Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox patriarch has denounced an Israeli court ruling to allow a pro-settlement group to take control of church land in a mainly Palestinian area of occupied and annexed East Jerusalem.
On July 31, a Jerusalem court upheld controversial real estate deals involving Israeli pro-settlement organization Ateret Cohanim and the church for two hotel properties near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City, Israeli media reported, finding no evidence of the deals resulting from fraud or bribery.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem on Saturday criticized what he called an “unjust” and “politically motivated” ruling and said the church would appeal to Israel’s supreme court.
“This decade-long legal battle has resulted in an unjust decision which disregarded all of the patriarchate’s clear and concrete legal evidence proving bad faith, bribery and conspiracy,” Theophilos said.
“Such a decision in favor of the settler group Ateret Cohanim can only be interpreted as politically motivated.”
In 2005, Israel’s Maariv daily newspaper reported that foreign Jewish investors had paid millions of dollars to buy two large properties just inside Jaffa Gate through a secret deal with the Greek Orthodox church.
A source close to the Greek Orthodox patriarchy at the time told AFP that the church was unaware of the land sale, which triggered Palestinian anger and saw Theophilos’s predecessor removed from office.
According to Israeli media, the agreements, which were initially signed in 2004, were for 99-year leases on hotel properties near Jaffa Gate.
The church went to court against Ateret Cohanim, claiming the deals were inked illegally and without its authorization.
The Greek Orthodox Church is the biggest and wealthiest Christian Church in the Holy Land.
Its Jerusalem patriarchate commands massive wealth, largely in land portfolios in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jordan.


Damascus criticizes White Helmet evacuation as ‘criminal operation’

Updated 38 min 50 sec ago
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Damascus criticizes White Helmet evacuation as ‘criminal operation’

  • Israel said it had helped with the evacuation at the request of US President Donald Trump and other leaders
  • The Syrian government has accused the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, of being agents of foreign enemies

BEIRUT: The Syrian government on Monday condemned the evacuation of hundreds of Syrian White Helmet rescue workers who fled the country with help from Israel into Jordan, calling it a “criminal operation” undertaken by “Israel and its tools.”
The rescue workers and their families crossed out of Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before arriving in Jordan. Israel said it had helped with the evacuation at the request of US President Donald Trump and other leaders — and there had been fears that the workers’ lives were at risk.
The Syrian government has accused the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, of being agents of foreign enemies and working with insurgents fighting President Bashar Assad.