Never understand the power of Ehud Olmert to develop a plan for Israel to commit suicide. Yesterday, after two years of fighting amongst themselves, the Israeli Government confirmed the Greek Orthodox Church’s choice for Patriarch. Regional bylaws require Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox patriarch – the religious leader of 100,000 Christians in the Holy Land – to be recognized by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
This new Patriarch has promised NO LAND FOR THE JEWS, meaning the first thing he will do is cancel the sale of land right outside the Jaffa gate that his predecessor made to Jewish organizations.
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – After two years of debate, the Israeli government yesterday officially confirmed the man enthroned here as Greek Orthodox patriarch, amid accusations the religious figure would cancel the sale to Jewish groups of land comprising much of a key entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. Theofilos III was elected patriarch in 2005 amid charges of church irregularities. He has been quoted by church officials as opposing the sale of Jerusalem property to Jews. Church officials say once approved by the Israeli government, Theofilos would work to cancel the sale Jerusalem property to Jews. “The deal must be canceled and Theofilos knows this. We as a church will fight any smuggling of real estate to Jewish organizations,” Atallah Hanna, the church’s archbishop of Sebastia, told WND. Ownership of the land in question – two hotels that comprise a large section of the Jaffa Gate, the principal entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem – could be crucial in the future status of Jerusalem during upcoming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Following last month’s U.S.-backed Annapolis summit, Israel is widely expected to evacuate eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods for the creation of an eventual Palestinian state. Previous U.S.-backed proposals have allotted Jewish-owned sections of Jerusalem to Israel and Arab-occupied real estate to the Palestinians. Theofilos was elected patriarch after church officials ousted the previous patriarch, Irenios, in May 2005 by holding new elections after it was exposed Irenios allegedly leased for 99 years the church’s Jaffa Gate real estate to Jewish groups. Regional bylaws require Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox patriarch – the religious leader of 100,000 Christians in the Holy Land – to be recognized by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Jordan and the PA approved of Theofilos, but Israel has withheld its support amid reports, first exposed by WND, that prior to the patriarchal elections Theofilos, along with other candidates for patriarch, signed a secret church document stating if he were elected leader he would nullify all transactions made by Irenios, the previous patriarch, including the Jaffa Gate sale. Still yesterday, after two years of deliberations, the Israeli government approved Theofilos by a vote of 10 to 3. Theofilos has claimed he is still obtaining all the information on the real estate deals conducted under Irenios, and that he hasn’t made any decisions yet regarding the Jaffa’s Gate sale. But some Israeli officials chalk up Theofilos’ reluctance to immediately cancel the deal to the fact that the Jewish state until yesterday was deliberating whether or not to recognize his leadership. But WND revealed Theofilos already signed a document stating he would nullify the Jaffa land deal. The document, addressed to the Palestinian Authority and obtained by WND, states, “We, the candidates of the Greek Orthodox Church, hereby agree that we are obliged to abide by the law of the Greek Orthodox patriarchate. … In the event that we are elected, we shall act for the cancellation of all transactions made during the period of Irenios I, and shall keep the Orthodox religious trust.” High-placed sources close to the church said the document was drafted by a PA government minister with the specific goal of canceling Irenios’ lease of the Jaffa Gate hotels to the Jewish groups. “The candidates were essentially blackmailed by the Palestinians that if they didn’t sign the document and cancel the lease, they would not get approval of the PA as candidates and could not run in elections,” a church source told WND. “This is an outright racist policy against the Jews.” A senior church leader close to Irineos told WND: “Theofilos has made statements about not providing Jerusalem land to Jews. He agrees with the Palestinians that they have the rights to eastern Jerusalem.” In May, Jordan temporarily suspended Theofilos for three months, reportedly asking him to immediately cancel the Jaffa’s Gate deal. According to informed sources, Theofilis was reinstated in August after assuring Jordan he would ultimately nullify the land sale. Speaking to WND, Irineos said he could not comment on the secret document regarding nullification of the Jaffa Gate sale, but said, “There is a lot at play here in the election of Theofilos and attempts at deposing [me].” “The electorate was blackmailed into supporting Theofilos,” Irenios said. “They were told by fathers and brotherhood members and others that if they didn’t vote for Theofilos, they would be kicked out of the church. Documents were made to be signed, including a letter that said ‘I will not stand with Irenios.'”