Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III said, Sunday, that a two-week old Israeli District Court ruling upholding a 99-year lease of church property in Jerusalem’s Old City, to Jewish settler organizations, is politically motivated.

Theophilos said, at a press conference in the Jordanian capital of Amman, that this legal battle, which has been going on for a decade, has resulted in an unjust decision that has ignored very clear legal evidence presented by the church, which made it clear that it was done in “bad faith, bribery and conspiracy” for the benefit of the group of settlers from Ateret Cohanim.

He said, according to WAFA, that this ruling can “only be explained as politically motivated.”

He said that 40 members of the Israeli parliament are pushing for a law which would alter the rights of the churches in Jerusalem in freely handling their property, warning that this bill, if passed, would violate international treaties and infringe on freedom of worship.

The patriarch said his church is going to appeal the District Court’s ruling, which he said will have a grave negative impact on Christian presence in the Holy Land, at the Israeli Supreme Court.

“The church will do everything within its power so that this unjust ruling will be overturned,” he said.

He called on church and world leaders to coordinate their activities and intervene to prevent this ruling from taking hold.

(PNN archive image)