Palestinian Christians protest Greek patriarch over Israel land deals
Dozens of Palestinian Christians have protested against the Greek Orthodox patriarch of the Holy Land, demanding the resignation of Theophilos III for allegedly selling church land to Israelis.
Around 50 demonstrators rallied Thursday outside St. George Church in Jerusalem where Theophilos had arrived to pray. Some waved banners calling him "not trustworthy." Others scuffled with Theophilos' supporters.
The church is one of the largest real estate owners in the Holy Land. It is dominated by Greek clergy while the flock is overwhelmingly Palestinian.
Activists have presented documents as evidence that the patriarch sold land in sweetheart deals. An Israeli court has upheld the transactions, conducted by Theophilos' since-deposed predecessor.
Demonstrator Ghassan Mounayer accused the church of giving land to "Jewish businessmen instead of investing it in the well-being of the Christian community.
Similar demonstrations took place in September when some 200 demonstrators rallied outside the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Jerusalem. Some raised banners reading "Theophilos is unworthy".
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.