Russia slams Israel over church land ruling

Published June 16, 2022
People walk past the Imperial Hotel located next to the Jaffa Gate in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. — AFP/File
People walk past the Imperial Hotel located next to the Jaffa Gate in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. — AFP/File

MOSCOW: Russia said on Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” after Israel’s top court ruled that a Jewish settler group legally purchased an east Jerusalem property from the Greek Orthodox Church.

The Ateret Cohanim organisation, which seeks to “Judaize” Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, bought three buildings from the church in a controversial deal struck in secret in 2004.

The church brought charges against Ateret Cohanim, claiming the properties were acquired illegally and without its permission.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation regarding the Christian presence in Jerusalem,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement, a week after Israel’s Supreme Court dismissed the church’s appeal.

“Such a decision is predictably detrimental to interfaith peace and raises legitimate concerns about the position of the Christian community in the Holy Land,” she added.

Tensions between Russia and Israel have heightened since the start of the former’s military intervention in Ukraine, with Moscow accusing Israel of supporting the “neo-Nazi regime” in Kyiv.

In April, Russia asked Israel to hand over ownership of the contested Alexander Nevsky Church in Jerusalem after the transfer — approved by the previous Israeli government — was halted.

Published in Dawn,June 16th, 2022

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