The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem sold properties inside the Jaffa Gate to a Jewish company to prove to Israel that he does not sympathize with Palestinians and the PLO, Nikos Papadimas, the former financial manager of the patriarchate, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Saturday.

Papadimas, who signed the deal in the name of the Patriarch Irineos I, has fled Israel to an unknown destination.

Patriarch Irineos has accused him of embezzling patriarchy funds.

Papadimas also told Haaretz that the deal was signed by an offshore company registered in the Bahamas.

‘The company deposited a $1.5 million advance into one of the patriarchy’s accounts’ Haaretz quoted Papadimas as saying.

The Israeli government refused to approve Irineos’ election as Jerusalem’s patriarch for two years, accusing him of hating Israel and being close to late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

In January 2004, the government gave its approval for his appointment, as required by tradition.

Apparently, Irineos negotiated the sale of the properties to a Jewish buyer and signed the deal soon afterward, as a payoff for making his installation as patriarch possible.

The property’ buyer is concealing his identity, but, has approached the Djani family, which has been leasing the Imperial Hotel for 70 years, through lawyers demanding the evacuation of the purchased properties.