Jerusalem Patriarch to Nullify Land Deal

Aaron Klein, WND‘s Jerusalem Correspondent, brings us the latest about Theofilos III, the new Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem – but with his usual twist on the subject:

The man enthroned last week…signed a secret document obliging him to nullify the recent sale to Jewish groups of land comprising much of a key entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, and has allegedly made statements against Jews living in certain parts of Jerusalem, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The original land deal led to the downfall of the previous patriarch, Irineos, as I blogged on back in May (here, here, and here). Klein notes that:

Irineos, still recognized as patriarch by Israel, has for now resisted World Orthodox leaders’ calls to step aside, claiming a former aide signed the leases without his knowledge. Sources close to the lease negotiations told WND the deal was signed by the financial minister of the church’s Israel bank accounts and that Irineos was directly involved with the property transfer.

The former aide is Nicholas Papadimas, who is currently missing. As quoted by al-Jazeera, Irineos said that:

“I can say that these allegations are lies. I would like to confirm that I did not carry out any property deal and I confirm that even if such a thing took place through fraud or any other manner then we will coordinate with the legal consultants to annul these illegal measures,” Patriarch Irineos said.

So, the nullification was on the cards anyway, whoever the patriarch was. Klein, meanwhile, allows an anonymous quote to enunciate the WND line on the conflict:

“The candidates were essentially blackmailed by the Palestinians that if they didn’t sign the document and cancel the lease, they would not get approval of the PA as candidates and could not run in elections,” a church source told WND. “This is an outright racist policy against the Jews. If peace proposals come through and Jerusalem is ever divided, the Palestinians want Jaffa’s Gate, but Irineos’ lease would give it to Israel.”

Apparently, Palestinians are not too keen on their Israeli occupiers taking over strategically-important chunks of land in Palestinian areas, and they don’t want the Greek hierarchy of their local Orthodox church colluding with such a scheme (a scheme, by the way, just recently described by British officials at the EU). Funny, that – must be racism, then.

Irineos is still hopeful that Israel will arrange his restoration, despite the ridiculous position that would put him in. Everyone else, meanwhile, appears to prefer his replacement – including the Roman Catholics. AsiaNews reports:

The enthronement of Theophilos III as the new Orthodox Patriarch of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem opens a “new and more cordial chapter” in the relationship between the Catholic Church and its Greek-Orthodox counterpart, this according to Father Athanasius, Franciscan in charge of the Holy Sepulchre, who spoke to AsiaNews about the ceremony held on November 22 that he attended.

“Theophilos III is a good person, educated and cordial,” Father Athanasius said. He has already said that he is looking forward to renewing and strengthening ties amongst the various Christian denominations in the Holy Land.

That will mean an end to one of one of the few bits of light relief available in the alleged “Holy Land”: the tradition of Franciscans and Greek priests punching each other. The last outbreak was September 2004.

UPDATE: Joseph Farah himself weighs in. His argument is that lots of Jews lived in Jerusalem in the early twentieth century, and therefore they have special ownership rights over anything in the city that may currently belong to anyone else. Some think otherwise, but that’s anti-Semitism, of course.