Palestinians attack ‘traitor’ Patriarch’s convoy for sale of lands to Israel

Press TV – Palestinian Christians have attacked the convoy carrying the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem al-Quds as he was visiting the Israel-occupied West Bank, blaming him for controversial land sales to Israeli investors.

The protesters blocked Patriarch Theophilos III’s motorcade as he was being driven towards a church in Bethlehem on Saturday, chanting “traitor, traitor,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

The religious leader is accused of allowing controversial sales of the church’s property to groups contributing to Israel’s illegally-built settlements in East al-Quds. Palestinians consider East al-Quds the capital of their future state.

The protesters smashed the windows of three cars in the convoy, but not the Patriarch’s vehicle.

Palestinian protesters hold up placards as the convoy of Jerusalem al-Quds’ Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III arrives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on January 6, 2018 ahead of a Christmas service. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli media have reported that the controversial deals include properties in East and West al-Quds.

“Today, we stand here to prevent the entry of the traitor Theophilos,” Salama Shaheen, an activist of the Arab Orthodox Youth movement, told AFP.

“We do not want this man. This man must be brought to trial because he betrayed the homeland, betrayed the church and betrayed every human principle,” he added.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East al-Quds, in 1967 during a six-day war. Ever since, it has been building settlements there.

The structures are considered illegal by the international community due to their construction on occupied territory.

The church elected Theophilos in 2005 after dismissing his predecessor Irineos over an alleged multi-million-dollar sale of church land to Israeli buyers.

Nicola Khamis, the mayor of Beit Jala, a nearby Palestinian Christian town, said the practice continued.

“Theophilos ignored all the demands and continued selling this land even if the [Christian] majority is against it,” he said, adding, “Today, we are taking a stand to say the patriarch must stop the selling of the land.”