Israeli court upholds sale of Jerusalem church land to Jewish group

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JERUSALEM: Israel’s top court decided on Thursday that a Jewish pilgrim bunch legitimately bought an east Jerusalem property from the Greek Orthodox Church, finishing an almost two-decade fight over the old city property.

The Ateret Cohanim association, which looks to “Judaise” Israeli-attached east Jerusalem, purchased three structures from the congregation in a dubious arrangement struck stealthily in 2004.

The deal set off Palestinian resentment and prompted the excusal of Patriarch Irineos I the next year.

The congregation brought charges against Ateret Cohanim, asserting the properties were procured unlawfully and without its consent.

In a choice delivered late on Wednesday, Israel’s high court excused the congregation’s allure, taking note of that the “brutal charges” of wrongdoing by the gatherings engaged with the first deal were “not confirmed” in prior procedures. The congregation shot that decision as “out of line” and without “any legitimate coherent premise”.

It denounced Ateret Cohanim as a “extremist association” that had utilized “warped and unlawful strategies to secure Christian land” at an essential Jerusalem site.

The congregation’s legal counselor, Asaad Mazawi, said the decision denoted “an extremely miserable day”.

“We are discussing a gathering of fanatics that need to take the properties from the houses of worship, need to change the personality of (Jerusalem’s) old city and need to attack the Christian regions,” he said. Upheld by Israel, “sadly they are succeeding”, he said.

The Greek Orthodox Church is the biggest and most affluent church in Jerusalem with broad land property there going back hundreds of years.

It has confronted rehashed allegations of debasement and working with Israeli settlement extension on its properties.

Israel caught east Jerusalem in the 1967 conflict and later attached it, in a move not perceived by the majority of the worldwide local area.

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