The Gaza Post | The News of Palestine – Ramallah
Palestinian Orthodox Christians Wednesday lodged a criminal complaint against Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III over the sale and lease of church property to Jewish settler groups.
The complainants, the Arab Orthodox Cultural Club and Beit Sahour Society, among others, lodged the complaint against Theophilos III “in his private and official capacity” over the sale and lease of landmark church property to Jewish settler groups and developers in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Nazareth among other locations.
They accused the church primate of “treason,” “selling property to the enemy,” “breaking promises of safeguarding church property” and “contributing to Israeli plans to Judaize Jerusalem” by selling or leasing off large tracts of land to Israeli authorities and investors, betraying the church’s responsibility to protect Palestinian lands that were handed under its care during the Ottoman period.
This came as representatives of Palestinian Orthodox Christians held a sit-in called for by the Arab Orthodox Central Council in Palestine and Jordan in front of the Palestinian Attorney General’s office in Ramallah.
Speaking at the sit-in protest, Deputy President of the Palestinian Bar Association Nael al-Houh slammed the sale and lease of Orthodox Church property to Israeli investors as an “imminent serious threat” to East Jerusalem, the capital of the future Palestinian state.
He called upon the Palestinian government to immediately withdraw recognition from Theophilos III, “who has committed criminal acts that are tantamount to national treason,” and to raise the Palestinian flag over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem instead of the Greek flag normally hoisted over Greek Orthodox churches in Palestine.
He also called upon Palestinian judiciary to exert all efforts to nullify the deals that were struck between Orthodox Church primates and Israeli Jewish investors.
Deputy Head of the Arab Orthodox Central Council in Palestine and Jordan, attorney Nabil Mashhour, noted the complaint was signed by a total of 309 prominent Palestinian figures and called on the attorney general to initiate legal proceedings against Theophilos III.
Orthodox Christians consider the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem to be the mother Church and the first Church in history. The current patriarch is Theophilos III, the 141st Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Patriarchate includes nationals in Jordan, Israel and Palestine and serves nearly half a million Christians, the majority of whom live in Jordan.
By Khalil Fawadleh