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A REPORT ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM OF THE PATRAIRCHATE’S LAND PROPERTIES IN TALPIOT

His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III and from the First day of His election as a Patriarch, has assigned the patriarchate’s judicial and architectural team to search and investigate about the land properties owned by the patriarchate and to inquire about their status. In the year 2008 and through these investigations, it was ascertained that, the piece of land No. 2 plot 30288 with an area of 43 dunum located in Talpiot west of Jerusalem, is exposed to the danger of confiscation by the Municipality plans which had a public road going to be opened through it.

At the end of the year 2004 the Israeli local and municipal Authorities and the Israeli land Authority, presented the land planning project ( No. 3/5834 ) subsumed in the frame of many other projects agreed upon in advance concerning the areas of Talpiot and Giv’at Hamatos, the two areas that surround the land property of the patriarchate mentioned above and which are within the land properties of (1948). This land is not related to the land of St. Elias even though it is near the village of Beit Safafa. The land is part of a continuous area of about 200 dunums owned by the patriarchate in the same area. More than half the 200 dunums are  located inside the borders of (67), but the 43 dunums land mentioned above is located within  the lands of west Jerusalem and stretches, in certain extents, to the so called ” the forbidden area ” that separated between the borders of the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at that time.

Through these investigations and through the procedures taken for the protection and preservation of this land it was ascertained that it still faces many dangers and risks, both from the Municipality of Jerusalem and from the contracts and deals signed by the deposed, monk Ireneos, resulting in difficult judicial and procedural conditions related to this land and its protection. These conditions imposes the need to embrace the Patriarchate, its decisions and actions against the confiscation of that land, not the impoverishment of the Patriarchate and the provocation of division in the Orthodox line by dispersing  rumors and by calling for  conspiracy meetings. The first of those dangers is the confiscation of the land mentioned above by the Municipality of Jerusalem, and the Israeli land Authority which is still present and exists till now; and if this happens the Municipality will implement all her decided plans on this land. The second danger is that the deposed, monk Ireneos rented this land twice to two different parties. One to a local constructor and the second to Nicolas Papadimas who is famous for his bad reputation and his intents and involvement with the settlers in relinquishing the real estates of Jaffa Gate. As for the third danger it is that of the deposed, monk Ireneos himself again by giving to the right-wing extremist Arieh Golovenshish, the owner of company B.A.R.A., the right to manage and control all the Orthodox real estates in the country. In this specific report we will also reveal the details of the dangers of the contract signed by Ireneos to B.A.R.A.

The risk of confiscation – Municipality of Jerusalem and Israeli land Authority

The Israeli land planning project defined the land of the patriarchate mentioned above as a “green area”: an open public area that can be confiscated for the opening of roads, gardens and public area. It is worth noting that the Israeli law for land planning and construction of the year 1965 stipulates that the ownership of the confiscated land is transferred and registered under the name of the municipality of Jerusalem, which means if this confiscation of the land succeeds the patriarchate loses it forever. The Deposed former Patriarch Irinreos, during the period of his accession on the patriarchal throne and even after the announcement of the municipality’s plan of confiscation of this land, did nothing to object although he had the legal right to do so.

The dangers and risks as a result of the deals signed by thedeposed, monk Irineos -(B.A.R.A. and Papadimas)

The contract signed between Irineos and B.A.R.A.

In late 2007 and while the Deposed former Patriarch Irinreos had recognition as Patriarch by the Israeli government, he signed a contract with B.A.R.A. in which he gave to this company the complete and exclusive right of management and disposal with all the real estates and properties of the patriarchate including the monasteries, the churches in Jerusalem and the old city and in all the Holy Places. This company is owned by the right-wing extremist Arieh Golovenshish. The danger resulting from this signed contract threatens all the Patriarchate’s properties including the land mentioned above. Through the patriarchate’s reactions and opposition relating to the above mentioned land, and the patriarchate’s legal team, the Patriarchate managed to expose this very dangerous contract, and confront it through the Courts. For more information and details about the points of this contract and the procedures undertaken by the patriarchate to challenge it please review the last chapter of this report.

Lease contract signed by the traitor Irineos on the same piece of land with two different parties.

The traitor Irenenos signed a lease contract for the same piece of land mentioned above with two different parties. The first party is a local contractor well known for his continuous backing and support to Irineos, and still there are serious doubts about who stands behind this contractor and this contract since he is well known for his inability to solely invest and develop this land. Note that this agreement was signed in 2007, after the dismissal of Irineos. As for the second party, on the 15-09-2003 Irineos signed a lease contract on the same piece of land to the so called Nicolas Papadimas whose name was linked with the contracts signed on the properties of Jaffa Gate and who is at present wanted by the Interpol. This signed contact empowers Papadimas to a complete disposal of the land, and does not prevent him from transferring his acquired rights earned from this contract to any third party.

Procedures taken by the Patriarchate to save this land and opposing the confiscation and leakage.

The solution was to oppose and resist the municipality’s land planning ( No. 3/5834 ) and change the classification of this land from a “green area” and “open public area” to a “buildings” area suitable for building and to present a development project which concretes the Patriarchate’s right of ownership and prevents  the danger of confiscation forever; keeping in mind that this solution calls for an immediate presentation of complete project plans. This solution was discussed during the Holy Synod’s session held on the 17/11/2008 where the following decisions were taken.

1.      Exposing all contracts signed by Irineos with the local contractor and Papadimas and taking all procedures needed for canceling and annulling them.

2.      To  present an opposing plea against the municipality’s land planning (confiscation plan)

3.      To select one of the biggest land developing companies in order to achieve the following goals:-

  • Changing the classification and category of the land from a “green land” and “open public area” to a “building” area suitable for building.
  • Follow up with the municipality (through lengthy procedures) in order to get a construction license and building permits for this land
  • The payment of all taxes, fees and surcharges which are estimated to be tens of millions of dollars
  • The construction of not less than 100 apartments on an area of 12.000 square meters for the patriarchate and its community
  • Only if the company succeeds in executing all the above, then the Patriarchate will sign a long term lease contract with the company for the rest of the buildings which the Municipality permits to build on the land. After the term of this contract the land and all the above buildings go back to the Patriarchate’s ownership.
  • There will not be an option clause in the contract to extend the term period of this contract.

In addition,

  • To act in order to register, in the name of the Patriarchate, a land with an area of 17 dunums which is adjacent to the land of the Patriarchate (the 43 dunums mentioned above); because at present it is registered under the name of the Israeli authorities; it is ours and we are claiming our right of its ownership
  • It is also worth mentioning that some parties try to distort the real area of the land and claim that it is an area of 71 dunums which is not true. The real area is 43 dunums, in addition to the adjacent land area of 17 dunums on which the Israeli authorities claim ownership. Thus the total area is 60 dunums. But if there is a need to put pressure on the municipality, in order to increase the constructing project opportunities of success, the patriarchate will allow the virtual use of an area of up to 11 dunums from an adjacent land, which is also classified as a “public open area”, without its actual use for any additional buildings.

The company of Mr. Shraga Beran is one of the best companies for land development.  He offered his services for the achievement of the above mentioned goals. He is a very famous business man with good reputation and a history full of achievements in this domain especially in changing the classification and category of lands. His group of companies has a history of more than forty years. Mr. Beran himself is a leftist business man therefore it is naturally that he will take part in the efforts done for the rebuttal of the risks that threaten the above mentioned land.

The negotiations with Beran company were held between September 2008 and April 2009 in which a conditional agreement for implementing all the above was signed on the 28/4/2009 As it is usually followed in the execution of big projects, a new company was registered for signing this specific contract, having a limited financial liability in order not to effect the mother Company. And the registered company will bear the name of the land’s location which is “The Company of New Giv’at Talpiot limited. And the signed contract with this company is stipulated with the implementation of all the items mentioned above within a timeframe of five years only and after this period the contract becomes automatically cancelled.

Foiling the attempts of B.A.R.A.. and the deposed, monk Irineos, to control the land properties and real estates of the Patriarchate.

1.      On the 23/6/2008 B.A.R.A.. referred a letter to the Orthodox Patriarchate informing her about a contract signed with the removed monk Irineos in which the company is given the exclusively complete right of disposal and management of all the Patriarchate’s properties. The company attached to the letter a copy of the contract that was signed with monk Irineos and requested a meeting with all the responsible people in the Patriarchate. It was revealed later that the owner of this company is the extremist right-wing leader Arieh Golovenshish.

2.      On the 7/7/2008 the Patriarchate referred an answer on the above mentioned letter to the company through her lawyers, rejecting any link or knowledge of this contract that the company claims.

3.      On the 14/7/2009 B.A.R.A.. sent a second letter to the Patriarchate’s advocate repeating its request mentioned in its first letter dated 23/6/2009

4.      On the same day the Patriarchate answered through her lawyer to the company’s letter and affirmed her stance in not recognizing the claim of the company. And she warned the company from committing any attack or violation on the patriarchate‘s properties otherwise the Patriarchate will resort to legal procedures and to the police.

5.      On the 21/6/2008 B.A.R.A. referred to an arbitrator as per the agreement with the removed monk Irineos and brought a law suit against the patriarchate to force her to recognize the signed contract with Irineos. Thanks to the non-recognition of the Patriarchate of this arbitrator, who derives his power from the signed contract between the company and monk Irenoes, the arbitrator was not able to decide on the case and was forced to reject it.

6.      On the 3/3/2009 B.A.R.A. referred to the central court with the same law suit  referred to the arbitrator but this time it was against Ireneos too because he failed to fulfill his obligations towards the company as per the signed contract between the two and the Patriarchate non recognition of the contract.

7.      On the 2/4/2009 the Patriarchate presented a list of defense to the central court where she affirmed her refusal to recognize the agreement between Irineos and B.A.R.A..

8.      On June 2009 advocate Imad Shoukri, representing Irineos, presented a list of defenses stating clearly the validity of the contract in which his client waived the rights of the Patriarchate in her property for the benefit of B.A.R.A. This further shows again the links between the removed monk Irineos with the suspicious groups.

when the Patriarchate went to register the development agreement with Talpiot Hahadasha co. in the Land registry she was surprised to find that B.A.R.A. registered a notification on the land and on almost all the Patriarchate’s land properties based on the contract signed with Ireneos which gives the company the exclusive and complete control on all the properties of the patriarchate to exploit them in the way the company sees it appropriate.

The patriarchate tried to cancel the contract between Irineos and B.A.R.A. in the land registry, but she didn’t succeed therefore she referred to the central court of Jerusalem on the 14/7/2009 where she requested and injunction order which prevents B.A.R.A. to act according to this contract and  according to the powers of attorney granted to the company by Irineos.

The patriarchate received a temporary injunction order against B.A.R.A. preventing the company from using the contract signed by Irineos in any institute or  in registering any notification in the land registry. In the hearing session the witnesses were questioned. One of them was Bishop Isichios who was questioned by advocate Ze’ev Sherf on behalf of B.A.R.A. Advocate Sherf is the advocate of Ateret Cohanim Settler foundation and the advocate who pleads on behalf of the Settler companies in the cases of the real estates of Jaffa gate which were leaked during the era of the deposed Irineos

On the 28/7/2009 the central court issued a judicial order to the benefit of the Patriarchate in which the court affirmed the temporary injunction preventing B.A.R.A. from acting in concern to the real estates, of the Patriarchate, that she tried to control until a final decision on the case is given.

Chief Secretary’s Office




A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE MOCKERY OF SACRED PERSONS AND SYMBOLS OF RELIGIONS

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem has condemned, through its representative in Nazareth, the offensive expressions and stances towards the Person of Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, as well as the re-broadcasting thereof by the Television Network 10 of Israel, in one of its satirical programs.

Pursuant to the above, the Holy and Sacred Synod in its Session 44/11/24-02-2009 has condemned all forms of slanderous expressions or displays pertaining to sacred persons or symbols of every religion, and has declared its perseverance in continuing the inter-religion dialogue that the Jerusalem Patriarchate is cultivating for the promotion of harmonious co-existence and for a constructive collaboration between all religions, in the framework of mutual respect.

From the Chief-Secretariat




STATEMENT BY THE PATRIARCHS AND HEADS OF THE CHURCHES IN JERUSALEM ON THE CURRENT DEVASTATING SITUATION IN GAZA

We, the Patriarchs, Bishops and the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem , follow with deep concern, regret, and shock the war currently raging in the Gaza Strip and the subsequent destruction, murder and bloodshed, especially at a time when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the King of love and peace. As we express our deep sorrow at the renewed cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and the continued absence of peace in our Holy Land , we denounce the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip and all forms of violence and killings from all parties. We believe that the continuation of this bloodshed and violence will not lead to peace and justice but breed more hatred and hostility – and thus
continued confrontation between the two peoples.

Accordingly, we call upon all officials of both parties to the conflict to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring destruction and tragedy, and urge them instead to work to resolve their differences through peaceful and non-violent means.

We also call upon the international community to fulfill its
responsibilities and intervene immediately and actively stop the bloodshed and end all forms of confrontation; to work hard and strong to put an end to the current confrontation and remove the causes of conflict between the two peoples; and to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just and comprehensive solution based on international resolutions.

To the various Palestinian factions we say: It is time to end your division and settle your differences. We call on all factions at this particular time to put the interests of the Palestinian people above personal and factional interests and to move immediately toward national comprehensive reconciliation and use all non-violent means to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.

Finally, we raise our prayers to the Child in the manger to inspire the authorities and decision makers on both sides, the Israelis and
Palestinians, for immediate action to end the current tragic situation in the Gaza Strip. We pray for the victims, the wounded and the broken-hearted.

May the Lord God Almighty grant all those who have lost loved ones consolation and patience. We pray for all those living in panic and fear, that God may bless them with calm, tranquility and true peace.

We call on all to observe next Sunday, January 4, as a day for justice and peace in the land of peace.

+ Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Patriarch Fuad Twal, Latin Patriarchate.
+ Patriarch Torkom II, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate.
Fr. Pier Battista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custody of the Holy Land
+ Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Abune Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate.
+ Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem & the Middle East .
+ Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land.
+ Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+ Bishop Youssef Zre’i, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate.
Fr. Raphael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Jerusalem on 30 December 2008




ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR OF THE ARMENIAN CLERGYMEN OF JERUSALEM

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem protests strongly against the unacceptable behaviour of the Armenian clergymen of Jerusalem, and denounces them internationally.

Beyond other problems created by the Armenians in the Holy Fire Ceremony and the annual cleaning of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, today, the forth time in one year, they violently pushed the Greek Orthodox Guardian outside the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre.

The presence of the Guardian of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the Edicule during the procession of the Armenians around the Holy Sepulchre, at their feast of the Holy Cross, the 1st Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday is an inalienable right of the Orthodox witnessed by written sources of the past and certified by experienced Greek priests of the present and members of the other Christian Communities of the Holy Land.

Despite discussions on the issue in the framework of the Status Quo Committee consisting of the Greek Orthodox, the Franciscans and the Armenians, despite correspondence conducted, despite a photograph of an Orthodox clergyman inside the Edicule at their feast of the Holy Cross in the year 1991, despite our arguments in front of the Holy Sepulchre today, the Armenians were not convinced to allow our guardian to enter the Edicule. So the only solution for us to support our right was to prevent them by a peaceful protest to finish their procession.

At this moment the Armenians, disrespecting the sacredness of the place, hit and wounded Greek Orthodox monks, and burst out in criminal violence against the Israel Police. The videoscoped scenes speak eloquently and thus no comment on them is necessary.

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem remains unshakeable in support of its indisputable rights over the Holy Shrines, faithful to the principles of respect for the Status Quo and for a solution of the problems concerning the Holy Shrines through dialogue, and regrets the scandalizing of the consciences of the people because of this episode which we tried by all means to avoid.

Chief Secretary Office

Of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

Of Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Sunday, November 9th, 2008




4TH ANOUNCEMENT OF THE HOLY AND SACRED SYNOD OF THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM

The Holy and Sacred Synod in its 24th Session today, June 11th, 2007 concluded the following announcement:

His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III and the Holy Synod trusted with the preservation and protection of Christianity’s holiest Shrines and fully committed to fulfil their obligations towards God, the Church, the pious congregation and the peace of the region:

Hereby declare and guarantee that:

During the tenure of Patriarch Theophilos III thus far, it is categorically stated, that he has not sold, disposed of or entered into any lease agreements, directly or through an authorised representative, in relation to any piece of land or property, to any party, neither in our outside the Old City of Jerusalem, nor in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan or any other place in the world that the Patriarchate owns property, without the approval of the Holy Synod as delegated to the various Organs of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

Furthermore, any transaction, in the future, related to any land and/or property in Jerusalem will solely be concluded in accordance with the Law of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the benefit of the Patriarchate and its congregation.

Throughout his tenure, Patriarch Theophilos III has used the property of the Patriarchate with transparency and good management, solely for the benefit of the Church and its congregation.

In this respect, the Holy Synod reminds the relentless and fruitful efforts of Patriarch Theophilos to release hundreds of dunums of the Patriarchate’s lands in Jerusalem, by paying off the heavy debt of 9 m. dollars, inherited by his predecessors.

The Patriarch and the Holy Synod will spare no effort in order to safeguard the ownership rights of the Patriarchate on any property which was transferred illegally and in violation of the Law of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem before Patriarch Theophilos’s tenure.

The Patriarch and the Holy Synod reiterate their commitment that they will continue their efforts in order to address the legitimate requests of the congregation and fulfil all their commitments so as to solve all relative issues.

From the Secretariat Office of the

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

Of Jerusalem




THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM IS IN OPERATION

The august Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in recognizing the enormous possibilities that the internet offers as a means of two-way communication with believers, initiated and developed its official website on the internet with the personal solicitude of His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

For several months volunteers and distinguished friends of the Patriarchate and members of our staff have served with selfless devotion in partnership with the staff of the Unit of Medical Technology and Intelligent Information Systems of Ioannina University in developing the Patriarchate’s website with the following address:

www.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/

This will be expanded to include more languages, particularly Arabic and English, aiming at a fair, objective and true presentation of the  Patriarchate’s rights and struggles for the world’s Sacred Heritage – the Holy Shrines and its Greek Orthodox (Romeian Orthodox) Christian flock.

This website aspires to become the main public media platform for the Patriarchate and shall also post newsreel relating to the Holy Shrines, Holy Monasteries and Churches, people and serving Offices of our Patriarchate, together with announcements and news reports concerning the Patriarchate.

The Secretariat of the website is based at the Exarchate of the Holy Sepulchre in Athens under the management of the theologian and philologist Dr. Aikaterini Diamantopoulou, at the following address:

Website Secretariat

Exarchate of the Holy Sepulchre

18, Erehtheos street, Plaka

Athens 10556

Telephones          : +30-210-3222546 and +30-210-3228861

Fax                         : +30-210-3222542

e-mail                   : info@jerusalem-patriarchate.info

Chief Secretary’s Office




3RD ANNOUNCEMENT ISSUED BY THE HOLY AND SACRED SYNOD REGARDING THE ISSUES RAISED IN AMMAN

The Holy and Sacred Synod in its 22nd all members session today, May 11th, 2007, examined the written defense of the three clergymen of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, Archbishop of Sebastia Theodosios,   Archimandrite Christoforos and Archimandrite Meletios and judged their behaviour as anticanonical and antiecclesiastical and for the sake of the maintenance of a climate of peace, reconciliation and unity in the politically sensitive area in which we live, and in a spirit of clemency, imposed the punishment of a severe rebuke to the two mentioned Archimandrites and of the two months suspension to the Archbishop of Sebastia, Mr. Theodosios, intending to remove these punishments, so long as in front of an established Synodical Committee, they will show a behaviour complying with the orders of the Gospel and the Sacred church rules.

Also the Holy and Sacred Synod approved the forwarding of a letter to the Prime Minister of Jordan in related to the reestablishment of the Mixed Council and decided the establishment of an Office Media of the Patriarchate in Amman -Jordan.

From the Secretariat Office of the
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Of Jerusalem