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Palestinian Orthodox Church Seceded

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    Athens opposes Arabisation of Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem From: palestinianchristians@yahoo.com (AFP, March 24, 2005) Athens, Greece -- The Greek
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2005
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      "Athens opposes 'Arabisation' of Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem"
      From: palestinianchristians@...
      (AFP, March 24, 2005)

      Athens, Greece -- The Greek government said it will defend the
      historical character of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem,
      following Palestinian calls for its "Arabisation."

      In Ramallah, on the West Bank, Palestinian MPs -- furious at the
      alleged sale of Jerusalem land to Jewish investors by the Greek
      patriarchy -- voted Tuesday for Arab Orthodox Christians to secede
      from the Greek patriarchy.

      They passed a resolution urging the Palestinian Authority to no
      longer recognise the authority of the Greek Orthodox patriarchy over
      the Orthodox Arab community.

      Denials of the alleged land sale, issued by Greek Patriarch Irineos
      I in Jerusalem, fell on deaf ears.

      A Greek government spokesman, Evangelos Antonaros, said here that
      the Greek Orthodox patriarchy in Jerusalem had a history spanning
      centuries, and he believed most of the flock would not want to
      abandon it.

      An investigation into the matter is under way, assisted by Greek
      foreign ministry experts who arrived in the Old City on Monday.

      "Taking the results of the investigation into consideration, we will
      decide on steps that will defend the patriarchy's historical
      characteristics," Antonaros said.

      The Greek team includes lawyers, financial experts and the Greek
      foreign ministry's head of religious affairs, the Greek embassy in
      Jerusalem said.

      "The foreign ministry sent its group of experts to Jerusalem on
      Monday who are charged with investigating the reported sale of real
      estate of the Patriarch of Jerusalem," it said in a statement.

      Allegations about the land sale were first published in Israel's
      Maariv daily.

      Purchasing property in the Old City -- in occupied and annexed east
      Jerusalem -- is fraught with political tensions as Jewish groups
      often try to obtain properties in Palestinian areas in a major
      settlement drive.


      Church rift over land sale scandal?
      2005.03.23 Kathimerini:

      RAMALLAH (AFP) - The Greek Orthodox Church was flung into a fresh
      crisis yesterday as Palestinian MPs voted for Arab Orthodox
      Christians to secede from the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem
      following its alleged sale of land in the ancient city to Jewish

      The latest twist in the ongoing scandal, which has resurrected a
      bitter split within the Greek Orthodox community in the Holy Land,
      came as Patriarch Irenaios denied any involvement in the alleged
      land sale in Jerusalem's Old City.

      "I formally and categorically deny any personal implication, or
      implication of the Patriarchate in this alleged transaction, the
      details of which we know nothing," he said in a statement four days
      after the scandal broke.

      But in a special session to discuss the crisis, the Palestinian
      Parliament passed a resolution urging the Palestinian Authority to
      no longer recognize the authority of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
      over the Orthodox Arab community.

      The resolution calls on the Palestinian leadership "not to recognize
      the patriarch," and "to work through legal means for the Arabization
      of the Orthodox Church" in the occupied Palestinian territories.

      "We must separate the Palestinian Orthodox Church from the Greek
      Orthodox Church," said MP Hanan Ashrawi during the debate. "We must
      solve this crisis by making the church an Arab church."


      B'Tselem: Wall Affect Half a Million Palestinians
      In its latest report, the centre said that 14 Palestinian towns and
      villages, with more than 24,000 residents, will be cut off by the
      illegal Apartheid Wall being built in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
      According to the report, Israel's wall will also surround 53 towns
      and villages, inhabited by at least 230,000 Palestinians, and
      isolate 18 Palestinian towns and villages in East Jerusalem

      The isolation of Jerusalem, another catastrophe
      The bad news kept on coming. Haaretz quoted a military source as
      saying that Palestinians living in Jerusalem will soon have to have
      a permit to get into Ramallah or Bethlehem. Few people believed the
      report. Some said it was a rumour, but the Israeli army has not
      denied the report. As the wall came up closing the only opening
      left, the junction ceased to be a junction.

      Army to confiscate lands west of Bethlehem
      Sunday, Israeli soldiers handed on dozens of residents of Nahhalin,
      west of Bethlehem, military orders to evacuate from their lands
      within 45 days. Nahhalin is surrounded by Israeli settlements
      erected on lands confiscated from the residents of the area;
      settlements are also constructed over Palestinian lands annexed from
      the residents of Wadi Fokkin, Husan and Batteer.


      Israel: A Call for Divestment
      posted online on March 15, 2005

      The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has
      led to an explosion of "people power" in the streets of Beirut, in
      which hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens have called for an
      end to Syria's occupation of their land. These calls have been
      celebrated and echoed in other capitals, and nowhere more so than in
      Washington. However, there is another area in the Middle East where
      a struggle to end foreign occupation has brought the natives only
      death and destruction. For decades, Israel has crushed the 3.5
      million Palestinians living under military domination, beating them
      into submission while taking away their civil rights and their land.

      As an Israeli Jew committed to peace for Israel and our neighbors, I
      was shocked and disgusted by the recent terror attack in Tel Aviv,
      which took the lives of innocent Jews. Such acts of terror have made
      headlines and been rightfully condemned by the international
      community. However, deadly Israeli attacks against Palestinian
      civilians have not received significant press attention in the West
      or led to appropriate, decisive international action. For decades
      the Israeli army, equipped with US arms and technology, has killed,
      maimed, beaten and tortured tens of thousands of Palestinian
      civilians. Evidently, in the eyes of the West the people power of
      Palestinians does not count.

      From 1986 to 1991 I served in the Israeli army in the occupied
      territories. During this period I was shocked and disgusted at what
      my comrades and I were repeatedly ordered to do to Palestinian
      civilians. To crush the uprising for independence and statehood, we
      were ordered to brutalize them. In one of our army bases in the West
      Bank, there was a mysterious room. Every day we watched Palestinians
      being led into it. After a couple of days our commanders would lead
      the Palestinians out, black and blue from bruises and their faces
      swollen. They resembled sacks of potatoes more than human beings.

      We later realized this room was a torture chamber. On some days, we
      could hear screams coming from the room. It was a sickening
      experience. However, we continued participating in the occupation
      because Israeli politicians persuaded us that we were in the midst
      of a "peace process." So effusive were they in their lectures on how
      Israel "only wants peace" that we were blinded from seeing the
      reality of how the state is brutally oppressing, subjugating and
      dehumanizing the Palestinian people.

      As many Israelis realize today, when Israeli governments talked
      about the peace process during the Oslo period, they were pulling
      the wool over the world's eyes. Israel continued colonizing the West
      Bank and Gaza with its Jewish-only settlements and, at the same
      time, entrenching a cruel military regime over Palestinians. The
      same is true today with Ariel Sharon's "disengagement" plan, which
      is being marketed by Israeli propaganda as a "painful concession"
      toward peace. Many of us who live in Israel and visit or serve in
      the occupied territories recognize the truth: Israel is continuously
      intensifying its military rule in the West Bank while stealing more
      Palestinian land and building more illegal Jewish-only settlements.

      For years, American taxpayer money has funded the occupation--the
      torture chambers, the military apparatus, the bulldozers used in
      house demolitions, the building of settlements and now the
      construction of the West Bank wall, declared illegal by the
      International Court of Justice (ICJ). Americans should be held
      accountable for where their money is going.

      After years of failed political efforts by the Israeli and
      international human rights community aimed at ending the occupation,
      it is clear that new approaches must be implemented. It is time for
      American civic institutions to support a multi-tiered campaign of
      strategic, selective sanctions against Israel until the occupation
      ends. Since the Israeli government is flagrantly disobeying the ICJ
      decision, international law mandates the use of sanctions to force
      Israel to comply with UN resolutions and human rights treaties.

      The first step for American institutions is to engage in selective
      divestment--withdrawal of their investments from companies that are,
      directly or indirectly, funding the occupation. First and foremost,
      states, cities, universities, churches, unions, banks and pension
      funds should divest from Israel Bonds, which finance the occupation,
      and from any company that sells arms, ammunition or other military
      equipment to Israel. This should include companies like Caterpillar,
      which manufactures and sells the bulldozers that have flattened
      thousands of Palestinian homes, and General Dynamics, General
      Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon and other
      corporations, because these companies play an active role in
      enabling Israeli forces to engage in practices that violate
      international humanitarian law.

      Second, the West should hold Israeli military personnel and
      political leaders personally accountable for human rights
      violations, including trial before international courts and bans on
      travel to other countries. This strategy has been implemented in
      other conflicts (Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo and South Africa, for
      example), proving its deterrent value and effectiveness.

      Prohibiting the sale of arms and military equipment to Israel is, in
      fact, called for by existing US law. According to the Foreign
      Assistance Act of 1961 (22 USC ยง2304), "No security assistance may
      be provided to any country the government of which engages in a
      consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized
      human rights."

      The current hypocritical American Administration is not enforcing
      this law with regard to Israel. It is, therefore, up to American
      civil society to uphold the law and prevent the sale of any military
      equipment to Israel by pressuring the government, filing complaints
      against companies that violate this law and withdrawing all
      investments from such companies.

      The Presbyterian Church took a positive step in this direction when
      in July 2004 its General Assembly passed a resolution calling for
      selective divestment from companies that profit from the occupation.
      This past February the World Council of Churches, which brings
      together more than 340 churches worldwide, issued a similar
      resolution. While criticizing the severe human rights abuses
      inherent in the occupation and the construction of the illegal West
      Bank wall, these resolutions also affirm the right of the State of
      Israel to exist securely and peacefully, and they categorically
      reject the tragic cycle of indiscriminate violence perpetrated by
      both sides against innocent civilian populations.

      Sanctions are a powerful and nonviolent means to insure that the
      Israeli government abides by international law and ends its
      appalling human rights violations in the occupied territories.
      Divestment resolutions are long overdue. We have witnessed the power
      of worldwide economic pressure in the collapse of the South African
      apartheid regime. If American civic institutions follow the same
      strategy, we could see the end of the Israeli occupation in our
      lifetime. Americans should stand up for human rights and justice,
      follow their own law and take the most productive step toward peace
      and security in the Middle East.



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