Washington, D.C. - June 10, 2022

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Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Dismayed by Israeli Court Ruling to Expropriate Greek Orthodox Church Property in Jerusalem

The Israeli Supreme Court on June 8 rejected a final appeal from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to prevent the transfer of three buildings in the Old City of Jerusalem to the right-wing Israeli group Ateret Cohanim. This ends a 17-year legal battle that began in 2004 with the sale of the properties to shell companies controlled by the Israeli group. The Patriarchate asserted that the purchases were fraudulent, and Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is dismayed by the Court’s decision to transfer ownership of these important Christian properties.

In late March, more than two months before this ruling, Members of Ateret Cohanim, supported by Israeli police but without any court authorization, forced their way into the Petra Hotel. CMEP opposes such unlawful incursions and stands with the Greek Orthodox Church as it defends its rights and the rights of Palestinian Christians. CMEP urges that there be no evictions of Palestinian tenants housed in these buildings, and calls for a renewed commitment to peaceful coexistence in the Holy City between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

The full text of the Statement of the Patriarchate can be read below.


Jerusalem, 08.06.2022

Today, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision rejecting the Patriarchate’s latest attempts to annul the ruling issued against it in July 2017, through which the radical Israeli organisation, Ateret Cohanim, succeeded in expropriating the properties of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem at Jaffa Gate (Bab Al-Khalil) in Jerusalem, and this decision comes despite the legal battle waged by the Patriarchate for the past seventeen years.

The Patriarchate considered the court’s decision as unfair and not following to any legal or logical basis, as the radical organisation and its backers and supporters have followed crooked and illegal methods to acquire Christian real estate in one of the most important sites of Arab Islamic and Christian presence in Jerusalem.

Over the past years, the Patriarchate launched a legal, media and diplomatic campaign in which it incurred very high costs, in the judicial and diplomatic field, in order to pressure the Israeli authorities to prevent radical organizations from seizing these properties, but these attempts did not succeed under the pressure of these radical organizations and their agents who support them in the decision-making circles.

The Patriarchate affirmed that it will continue to support the Palestinian tenants in their steadfastness in these Christian properties, and that it is unwavering in its battle to curb the racist policy and the agenda of the extremist right-wing in Israel, aimed at eroding the multiple identity of the city of Jerusalem and imposing a new reality within it.



Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of more than 30 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East.

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