Theophilus III Rejects Israeli Court Ruling on Jaffa Gate Case

AMMAN —AlGhad— The Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, All Palestine and Jordan, Theophilos III, made a public statement today, Saturday, voicing his rejection of an Israeli court ruling over the ownership of a property which belongs to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the Jaffa Gate area in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem.

The Israeli court ruled in favour of the settlers, leasing church properties, two hotels, in the occupied city, to three Israeli companies, owned by settlers, for 99 years.

Theophilos III told a press conference in Amman that this decade-long legal battle resulted in an unjust decision ignoring clear and established legal evidence provided by the Patriarchate.

Moreover, the Patriarch stated that these properties fall within occupied territories, and it is therefore not the legal right or jurisdiction of an Israeli court to enforce occupational decisions.

The evidence provided made it clear that there was "bad faith, bribery and conspiracy for the benefit of the group of settlers, and this can only be explained as politically motivated", the Jordan news agency, Petra, quoted the Patriarch saying.

He pointed out that 40 members of the Israeli Knesset, two weeks ago, signed a draft law which would seriously limit the churches' rights to handle rightful lands and property, giving the occupation authority to seize and confiscate them.

Such move raises more concerns that the case is being politicized, the Patriarch added.

He stressed that the draft law is a clear attempt to deprive the 2,000-year-old Patriarchate and the other churches of their legitimate freedom and independence.

More so, the Patriarch warned that if the bill was passed, it would constitute a clear and serious violation of all international treaties, and an outright assault against the freedom of worship.

Theophilos III called for an urgent meeting of the heads of the Holy Churches to coordinate their rejection of the Israeli ruling and respond to such dangerous developments, which will not only affect the Christian community in the Holy Land, but all Christians across the globe.

Over the past weeks, the Patriarch indicated, the holy city has been subject to "waves of turbulent confrontations and rapid developments in political agendas".

Most recent of these is this ruling on the Jaffa Gate case, which is neither reasonable nor just.

He called on His Majesty King Abdullah II, US President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres, and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as all heads of churches in the world and the international community to immediately and urgently intervene to ensure justice and freedom.

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