The High Court of Justice dismissed the Greek Patriarchate’s demand to overturn a ruling ordering the transfer of buildings it owned in the Old City of Jerusalem, to the Israeli Ateret Cohanim organization, a final judgment putting an end to the sprawling saga.
The judges rejected the Greek Patriarchate’s appeal of the district’s decision not to hold a retrial on the sale of the property at the Jaffa Gate (Sha’ar Yafo).
After an 18-year-long battle, the court on Thursday ruled again that the Greek Orthodox Church must honor a 99-year lease of three church properties it signed with the Ateret Cohanim organization in 2004.
This ruling is considered by all sides to be another victory for organizations working to boost the Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Patriarchate rejected the ruling as “unfair, and not following any legal or logical basis.”
The ruling will allow Ateret Cohanim to resume its efforts to evacuate the Arab tenants from two of the large hotel buildings it purchased.
Ateret Cohanim 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.