Photo Credit: TPS
Jaffa Gate (Sha'ar Yafo) in the Old City of Jerusalem

The ruling of Israel’s High Court of Justice that an Israeli purchase of Greek Orthodox Church property located at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City is legal is “unfair,” the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem charged.

After a 14-year-long battle, the court ruled Tuesday that the Greek Orthodox Church must honor a 99-year lease of three church properties it signed with the Ateret Cohanim organization in 2004.

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This ruling is considered a victory for organizations working to boost the Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem.

In a statement, the Greek Orthodox Church said it will further challenge the “the unfair decision.”

“Our legal teams, in cooperation with experts in international law, are studying all the possibilities available to annul the deal to seize the properties at Jaffa Gate,” the statement said.

The church further alleged that the ruling “will have negative effects on the Christian presence in the Holy City.”

Ateret Cohanim, the Israeli organization that gained legal control of the buildings at the entrance to the Old City, has a yeshiva located in the Muslim Quarter and works to augment the Jewish presence in the Old City and in east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

It purchased the buildings near the Jaffa Gate for a 99-year lease which is renewable for an additional 99 years, through three front companies.

The Church claimed that former Church finance director Nikolas Papadimos was unauthorized to make the sale and was bribed by the Israelis.

However, several Israeli courts ruled that the Church failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their allegations.

The Hotel Imperial and the nearby Petra Hotel currently occupy the buildings.

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