The Supreme Court of Israel has rejected an appeal by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem to block the sale of three of their buildings in the Old City of Jerusalem, acquired by the Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim.
According to the judgment issued by the Court on Monday 10 June, the properties of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate were legitimately acquired by foreign intermediaries acting on behalf of Ateret Cohanim. The sentence handed down two years ago by the District Court of Jerusalem was confirmed.
Two of the three contended buildings are located near Jaffa Gate, in the Christian area of the old city, and are now used as a hotel. The sale took place in 2004. The news of the sale had provoked protests within the Greek Orthodox Christian community, culminating with the deposition of Patriarch Irenaeus I on behalf of the Holy Synod with the accusation of undue alienation of buildings of the Patriarchate.
The decision of the Supreme Court of Israel ends a dispute that lasted more than 14 years.
In 2017, after the ruling of the District Court of Jerusalem that had already recognized the legitimate acquisition of the disputed buildings by Ateret Cohanim, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem had signed a joint document in which they denounced the “systematic attempt to undermine the integrity of the Holy City” and “to weaken the Christian presence in the Holy Land”.
A project which, according to the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem, manifested itself in the “violations of the Status Quo” of the Holy Places. The joint document, also signed by Teophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, expressed firm opposition to “any action” implemented by “any authority or group “which has the effect of violating and undermining” laws, agreements and regulations that have governed our lives for centuries”.