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Archbishop: Settlers are another form of ISIS, meant to destroy Christian culture, history and heritage in Jerusalem

Headline: “Archbishop Hanna: The targeting of the Orthodox Church’s buildings at the Jaffa Gate is a plot against the Christian presence”

“Greek-Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia Atallah Hanna said… that he was not surprised by the decision of the so-called Israeli ‘[High] Court of Justice regarding the hotels and properties of the [Greek-] Orthodox Church in the area of the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, which have been sold in underhanded and illegal ways (referring to the sale of three buildings by the Greek-Orthodox Church to the Ateret Cohanim organization; see note below –Ed.)…

Hanna said that the Jaffa Gate issue is ‘a most grave matter, as the settlers’ takeover of ancient and beautiful buildings that are considered the face of Jerusalem and the entrance to its holy sites for visitors and pilgrims… constitutes a grave and unprecedented defeat for Jerusalem and its Arab-Palestinian identity.’ He said: ‘Targeting the Orthodox Church’s ancient buildings at the Jaffa Gate is part of the plot against the ancient Christian presence in this holy land; our enemies have created for us ISIS and the terror organizations similar to it in order to harm the Christian presence in the Arab Mashreq (i.e., the eastern part of the Arab region, comprised of Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, and Iraq) and other components of this Mashreq. [In Palestine], they have created for us ISIS in a different guise and style. We think that the ISIS-ism here and the ISIS-ism there are two sides of the same coin, and its goal is to destroy our culture, harm our history and heritage, and sideline our presence.’

Hanna added: ‘Only 1% of the Christians remain in Palestine (sic., apparently meant to say that the Christian population of “Palestine” is 1% of the general population), and the numbers of Christians are decreasing dramatically in Jerusalem. The Jaffa Gate deal will lead to a shocking and catastrophic decrease in the ancient and deep-rooted Christian presence in this holy city.’”

The Greek-Orthodox Church sold three buildings to the Jewish Ateret Cohanim organization in 2005. It afterwards claimed that those who made the sale on its behalf were not authorized to do so, and that the deal was corrupt. The church has tried to cancel the deal through the courts. When its first petition was denied, it appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice, which denied the appeal on June 12, 2019.

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