News and events

Embattled Irenaios vows freeze on property deals ( 01.04.2005 )

Jordan’s Interior Minister, Samir Habashneh (l), confers with the embattled Irenaios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, in Amman yesterday over explosive allegations that the Patriarchate has sold Church land in the holy city’s Arab sector to Jewish settlers. The claims have prompted widespread calls for Irenaios to resign.


AMMAN (AP) - Under intense pressure from Jordan as well as his Palestinian congregation, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem pledged yesterday not to sell any Church land in Israel, and denied any such sale had taken place.

Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported this month that the Patriarchate had secretly sold to Jewish settlers property in east Jerusalem, a traditionally Arab quarter the Palestinians hope to turn into the capital of their independent state.

The report upset Palestinians as well as the Jordanian government, which regards itself as custodian of the holy sites in east Jerusalem. Jordan said such a sale could prejudice future negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

[Greece has also signified that it would like Irenaios to stand down.]

After meeting Patriarch Irenaios in Amman yesterday, Jordanian Interior Minister Samir Habashneh told reporters the Orthodox leader had signed an affidavit in which he pledged to “refrain from any action that would result in authorizing the sale of Church property in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the Palestinian territories and Israel.”

“The patriarch promised to cancel all powers of attorney which had been given out to act on assets and properties of the church,” Habashneh told reporters. He said Irenaios also vowed to provide Jordan with copies of the revoked powers of attorney within 48 hours.

The patriarch denied any sale or lease to Israelis of Church land in east Jerusalem, but promised to “abolish” any “unauthorized deals.”