Orthodox patriarch warns Biden of Israeli extremist threat to Jerusalem's Christians
The patriarch informed Biden, who was on a visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, that extremist Jewish forces are escalating tensions and disrupting daily life and prayer in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter The Jerusalem Post reported.
In a letter addressed to Biden, Patriarch Theophilos III said that Jewish extremists were targeting the Christian Quarter in a bid to "alter the demographic and geographic nature" of the area, and "put a halt to Palestinian Christian presence in Jerusalem's Old City.
The patriarch expressed sadness that the Jewish extremist groups were backed by Israel’s far-right politicians, saying they enabled the disruption of the status quo of the city.
In January this year, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch accused radical Israeli groups of stoking tensions and threatening Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem.
Writing for the London Times, Theophilos III spoke of the vandalism, intimidation and violence that properties and people are subjected.
Other Christian leaders echoed the Greek patriarch’s sentiments, having faced similar threats by far-right Jewish extremists.
In May, members of the US Congress voiced concern to Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the treatment of Palestinian Christians, citing several incidents of arson and vandalism.
Earlier this month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed Pope Francis of increased attacks on Christian and Muslim sites in occupied East Jerusalem, particularly the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinian Muslims are also frequently the target of intimidation, forced expulsion, and violence at the hands of Israeli extremists in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.