Palestinian Christians call for Greek Orthodox patriarch to resign

Palestinian Christians call for Greek Orthodox patriarch to resign
With 1,500 Jerusalemites discovering the land under their homes has been sold to Israeli investors, they face uncertainty about their futures when their leases expire.
1 min read
10 September, 2017
Theophilos III [AFP]

Palestinian Christians have protested against the Greek Orthodox patriarch of the Holy Land, demanding the resignation of Theophilos III for selling church land to private Israeli real estate companies.

Around 200 demonstrators rallied on Saturday outside the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Jerusalem's Old City. Some raised banners reading "Theophilos is unworthy".

The church is one of the largest real estate owners in Jerusalem. It is dominated by Greek clergy while the flock is overwhelmingly Palestinian.

With 1,500 Jerusalemite homeowners discovering that the land under their homes has been sold, they face uncertainty as to what may come next after their leases expire.

Activists have presented documents they say proves the patriarch sold land in sweetheart deals, allegedly worth $32.4 million and demanded that the church open its books and that Theophilos III resigns.

The Greek Orthodox Church secretly sold 124 acres of land in West Jerusalem to undisclosed Israeli developers. Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist reported the sale in June, saying it took place in secret in August last year.

Last month, about 300 Palestinian Christians and lay groups filed a complaint against Theophilos with the Palestinian attorney general, accusing him of "selling land to the enemy".