Amidst heavy Palestinian security guard, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III arrived at the court of the Church of the Nativity Square (in the center of Bethlehem, in the south of the occupied West Bank) on Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for the midnight mass, in light of the celebrations of the Eastern Christian sects of Christmas.
The arrival of Theophilus III comes in the shadow of controversy in the Christian street in particular and the Palestinians in general. After information about facilitating the diversion of lands belonging to the Patriarchate in Palestine to the Israeli occupation, and amid calls to boycott and isolate him, in exchange for other calls calling for not to make any other disputes sour the joy of the holiday.
Infusion of the occupation
Jalal Barham, a member of the Orthodox Central Council in Palestine and Jordan, recently revealed that Theophilus had leaked about 110 dunums of the lands of the “Mar Elias” monastery in Beit Jala (west of Bethlehem) in favor of settlement projects that would serve the occupation plans, while Israel is known as “Greater Jerusalem” that will contain hundreds of dunams. From the neighboring lands of Bethlehem.
Barham says to Al-Jazeera Net that, despite the criminal complaints submitted to the Palestinian Attorney General about the Patriarch’s violations and the leakage of land, it has become clear and clear that he has not been deterred and is proceeding in the same way and approach to the diversion of the endowment lands of the sect.
The operation aims, according to Barham, to complete the ring of the settlement belt that swallows land in Bethlehem in favor of the well-known settlement projects, “Givat Hamatos One and Two”, which is a settlement belt in housing units and public facilities, which will strike the tourism economy in Bethlehem, and affect the political and geographical situation of the governorate. Likewise, Jerusalem will be cut off from its geographical extension south towards Bethlehem, and Jerusalem neighborhoods will be completely isolated from each other.
Barham confirms to Al-Jazeera Net that during the reign of Theophilus and in the past few years, 25 diversion deals have been uncovered inside Jerusalem alone, in its east and west, and in Old Jerusalem, and this means the man’s contribution, clearly and directly, in changing the identity of Jerusalem in favor of Judaization and families.
Barham revealed to Al-Jazeera Net that President Mahmoud Abbas gave the green light to the Attorney General in Palestine to proceed with the case against Theophilus III, and revealed all the details of the land leaks, stressing that the Central Council is a legal and recognized body and has its fair laws, and it is a well-known national body and its statements are public.
The celebration of Eid is general, not personal
Despite calls for boycotting his reception upon his arrival in Bethlehem, hundreds of Palestinians and from the Greek Orthodox community welcomed the man, and one of them is Grace Kanawati, a member of the Shura Council in the Greek Orthodox Scouts in Bethlehem, who told Al-Jazeera Net that the reception of the Patriarch should not be affected, and the status quo must be preserved. “What is followed, because the ceremony is public and not personal, stressing that all the Greek Orthodox parish is against diversion or sale to Zionist and occupation institutions.”
As for one of the young men who refused to receive him, and who refused to reveal his identity, he told Al-Jazeera Net that the sensitivity of the Orthodox issue lies in the fact that some members of the community deal with it as an attempt to distort the Christian religion and its people in Palestine, but on the contrary it is an attempt to struggle against a general policy of the patriarchy that has been pursued for decades The image of Christians in Palestine is tarnished, as they are land traffickers.
He continues that despite the opposition of many members of the sect to the method of struggle, the vast majority of them categorically reject any policy aimed at neutralizing the Arab voice within the Eastern Church and its demands to change the existing policy.
The patriarchate is shown
We were not able to reach the Patriarchate spokesman because of his preoccupation with the preparations for the Eid, but the Patriarchate had issued a statement accusing settler parties of promoting paid money to distort its image in front of its parish and in front of the Palestinians in general.
The Patriarchate confirmed that it has not leaked any endowment land to it, and that any lands that the occupation have controlled are by virtue of its military orders, affirming that it is following up cases in the Israeli courts.
The Patriarchate accused people of creating fake positions to attack it, and it is funded to spread lies against it, affirming that it is adding to the pressure of the settler “Ateret Cohanim” association against Patriarch Theophilos III and the Orthodox Church; To force her to hand over real estate belonging to her in Bab al-Khalil (one of the gates of Old Jerusalem) to the extremist settlement association.
Regarding the “Mar Elias” monastery, the Patriarchate said – in its statement – that it plans to restore the important historical monastery, denying any allegations of leasing the monastery. “Because monasteries are neither rented nor sold.”
Regarding the lands on which the settlement gathering around Jerusalem will be established, the Patriarchate confirmed that the land seized by an Israeli, which belongs to the monastery, has been seized by the occupation since 1974, and the occupation municipality in Jerusalem has announced since 2009 that it is the only disposer of it, with the aim of using it in public facilities, confirming that it She will prosecute everyone who distorts her image.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Palestine owns areas estimated at 7% of its historical area, in addition to extended real estate in Jerusalem estimated at 27% of its area, and among these properties are monasteries, schools, squares and large agricultural areas.