Israel Resource Review 29th April, 2005


Document Revealed:
Greek Church of Jerusalem Leased a Large Compound in the Old City Jews
Kalman Liebskind
Investigative Journalist, Maariv

There is an uproar in the Greek Orthodox church: approximately a month and a half ago, when Ma'ariv revealed the enormous deal in which the Greek Church of Jerusalem leased a large compound in the Old City to the Jews, Patriarch Irineos I hurried to deny it. Now Ma'ariv reveals the lease agreement itself.

The contract reconfirms the precise details that were revealed, calling into question the Patriarch's story who in some interviews denied the existence of the deal and in others its validity by claiming that the person who signed it did not have the authority to do so. The contract, which is entitled "Lease Agreement," was signed in Jerusalem on August 16, 2004, and it is valid for 198 years (which effectively makes the deal like a sale). It was signed on the one hand by the buyers' attorney and on the other by Nikolas Papadimas, the director of the finance department in the Patriarchy and one of Irineos's closest associates. The deal was signed only after Papadimas submitted a power of attorney which the Patriarch gave him at the office of attorney Yaakov Miron, allowing him to lease the Church's property for generations.

It will be remembered that Ma'ariv reported that Papadimas leased the Imperial and Petra Hotels, which are located near Jaffa Gate, to two groups of Jewish buyers, together with several nearby stores adjacent to the Arab market. Until the agreement was signed, all these properties were held and operated by Palestinian people who live in East Jerusalem.

According to the content of the lease agreement: Written in Jerusalem on August 16, 2004 between the Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem by means of Irineos I, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, via power of attorney from May 6, 2004 (hereinafter referred to as the Patriarch) on the first part, and on the second part the ________ Company (Ma'ariv has withheld the name). The Patriarch is the exclusive owner of the property known as the Imperial Hotel, which is part of the building located at Omar Ibn el-Hatib square, Jaffa Gate, the Old City of Jerusalem. This part of the building includes all the area of all the floors above the ground floor, the ceiling and the air space above it, the entrance to the hotel and the emergency exit on the ground floor, the stairwell between the side entrance and the emergency exit and the entrance floor, the stores on the entrance floor.

The signatures of Papamidas are prominent on the contract, and beside them is a stamp reading "Director, Finance Department of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem." The contract is eight pages long, and contains two sketches in Arabic of the large building.

This is the larger of the two contracts signed that day. The second contract deals with the leasing of the Petra Hotel.

Since Ma'ariv revealed the deal, the Patriarch's chair has been rocking forcefully. Arab sources, members of the Greek Orthodox church in Israel, together with the upper echelon of the Palestinian Authority and high-ranking members of the Jordanian administration, criticized him harshly for transferring the land to Jewish hands. Sources in the priesthood of the church criticized the giving of the church's many properties to Papadimas, a young Greek man who is not at all religious. Likewise, the Patriarch was criticized a good deal from within because some of his stories were found to be untrue.

In this context it should be noted that the Patriarch was caught in the past telling versions of events that later turned out to be inaccurate. For example, after his connections with Yasser Arafat were revealed, Irineos claimed that he did not know Arafat at all. This claim was disproved when a picture of the two men embracing and kissing was published in Ma'ariv.

In recent weeks several high-ranking church officials dared to speak publicly against Irineos, calling for his ouster. Only last weekend, when the church celebrated Palm Sunday, nearly all the bishops in the Patriarchate decided to hold an "Italian strike," and when the Patriarch arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher he discovered that the bishops had remained at home and did not come to worship with him. Upon his departure from the church Irineos was surrounded by hundreds of people who called him names and tried to attack him. Irineos left the place under police protection.

Tomorrow the Greek Church will celebrate the Resurrection Service, and following rumors recently circulating throughout the Old City that Ma'ariv would reveal the documents, a great deal of tension is expected during prayers and around the church.

At the same time, the church awaits the decision of Bartolomeos, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who serves as the head patriarch of all the patriarchs. After high-ranking priests in Israel contacted him with a demand to dismiss Irineos, members of the Patriarchate are now awaiting his decision.

This article ran in Maariv on April 29th, 2005

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Official Palestinian Authority Media:
Israeli Army Murders Old Arab Woman With "Radiation Machine" at Checkpoint

The official Palestinian news service charged Thursday that Israel deliberately killed "an aged woman" with an American-made "radiation" machine designed to detect bombs and guns.

The item re-appeared today on the front page of Al-Hayat-Al-Jadeeda, a Palestinian newspaper controlled directly by Mahmoud Abbas's FATAH faction of the PLO.

It was only the latest example of the atrocity story motif, that has included phony reports of deliberate Israeli murders of Palestinian children, which has come to typify Palestinian incitement against Israel and America under the new regime of Dr. Abbas who succeeded Yasser Arafat as the Palestinian leader.

"An aged woman died late on Wednesday at the Rafah crossing after being subjected to the Israeli radioactive detection device installed at the Rafah crossing to screen Palestinian travelers," asserted the official WAFA news agency controlled by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"Medics at Rafah said that the 55-year-old Fatema Abu Ubeid, of Rafah, died 15 minutes after she was subjected to the radial spy machine [sic] (axtrai) [sic], which Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) set up for searching the Palestinian passengers passing through the point," declared the WAFA bulletin on its English language website.

The report also appeared earlier in WAFA's Arabic language site (used by Palestinian newspapers, radio and television), and it continued to be displayed on the site today (Friday, April 29, 2005).

The strong charges are part of a consistent campaign this week by the Palestinian media against the use of advanced radio-wave machines at border checkpoints, following the Palestinian closure of their side of the border checkpoint in Gaza this week for several hours to protest.

"The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) decided on Tuesday to close Rafah cross point in a protest against Israeli use of a radiation device for searching the Palestinian travelers," declared the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds in a front page story Wednesday (April 27), echoing the WAFA report in Arabic.

The device in question, according to Israeli security officials, is actually the SafeView Millimeter Wave Radar - an American made "advanced portal using millimeter wave holographic technology to screen passengers for weapons and explosives."

In addition to pressuring Israel to stop using the advanced non-radiation detection machine, the Palestinian charges fit the new, somewhat more sophisticated pattern of propaganda used in the last four months under the regime of Dr. Abbas.

Unlike the propaganda of the Arafat period, the official Palestinian media-particularly the official television from Gaza-have largely stopped directly encouraging young boys to become "martyrs" through the airing of sexually suggestive or gory film montages and heated music videos and audio compilations.

However, under Dr. Abbas, the Palestinian media have actually stepped up the use of incendiary mosque speeches broadcast on Palestinian radio and television-where both Israel and America are regularly attacked--as well as increased use of code-words in Arabic such as "resistance operations" to describe attacks on Israelis.

During the Arafat regime, Arafat himself, his wife and the Palestinian media frequently accused Israel of using "radioactive weapons" against the Palestinians such as "Uranium artillery shells" and "uranium bullets," as well as "poison gas."

Suha Arafat, who inherited some of Arafat's hidden money, accused Israel of deliberately poisoning Palestinian water supplies, and this theme, too, has re-surfaced periodically--in Palestinian newspapers and Palestinian radio--since Abbas succeeded Arafat as PLO chairman in December and as PA chairman in January.

Dr. Abbas, who studied at the KGB-run Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in the 1980's, has been credited by both Western and Israeli media with having tamed the incitement in the Palestinian press, but since his election in January he has generally avoided condemning violence against Israeli targets.

After several Palestinian rockets fell in Israel this week, Dr. Abbas called the attacks a "deviation" from the "Palestinian consensus" and "contrary to Palestinian interests," but he did not condemn the attack or the attackers, despite reports to the contrary in the Western and Israeli press.

Dr. Michael Widlanski teaches political communication and comparative politics at the Rothberg School of Hebrew University. His doctorate, "Palestinian Broadcast Media In the Palestinian State-Building Process: Patterns of Influence and Control," was based on eight years of research involving more than 7,000 hours of monitoring Palestinian radio in Arabic as well as television and newspaper surveys. Widlanski was the NYTimes campus correspondent at Columbia University, 1974-1976, a reporter-researcher in the NYTimes Jerusalem bureau, 1980-82, Middle East Correspondent for The Cox Newspapers/Atlanta Constitution/Boston Globe, 1982-89.

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US AID Announces New Assistance for Palestinian Education -
No Requirement
to Eliminate Anti-semitic Curriculum

US AID PRESS RELEASE: April 29th, 2005

[The following US AID press release speaks for itself: Allocation of US AID funds to the Palestinian Authority educational system, with absolutely no requirement for that system to eliminate its anti-semitic curriculum, which can be viewed at - db]

BEIT DAJAN, West Bank - American and Palestinian officials inaugurated a new wing to the local primary school Thursday, expanding the facility's capacity by three grades and allowing older students to study in their own neighborhood.

The new wing of the Frush Beit Dajan Co-Ed School includes four classrooms and a teachers' room. The school used to accommodate students only up to the sixth grade - forcing older children to travel 17 kilometers to schools in Jiftlek or Nassarieh.

The new classrooms will enable the students to continue their education close to home until the ninth grade. Teachers say they also expect the new classrooms to sharply reduce the drop-out rate among the school's 200 students.

The American people contributed $88,000 to the project through the United States Agency for International Development (US AID). The Frush Beit Dajan Village Council chipped in another $7,000 in the form of designs and site supervision.

Present at the ribbon-cutting were Palestinian Authority Chief Negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat, Jericho Governor Sami Musallam and the head of the Frush Beit Dajan Village Council Khader Hanish. James Bever, Director of US AID's West Bank/Gaza Mission, and Barbara Belding, US AID's Director of General Development, represented the U.S. Government.

"The American Government is committed to the development of the West Bank and Gaza and to improving conditions here," said Bever. "We hope that this project will provide students with a safe and comfortable learning environment, especially during the hot summer months."

The school expansion was implemented by ANERA under US AID's Job Opportunities through Basic Services (JOBS) program that aims to generate employment opportunities for Palestinians. The project was completed in cooperation with the Village Council and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and generated more than 1,000 person days of employment. US AID has spent more than $1.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza to combat poverty, create jobs, improve education, build roads and water systems, construct and equip medical clinics, and promote good governance. Over the past four years, US AID projects have generated more than 2.8 million person-days of employment in the West Bank and Gaza.

Press Release issued by Sylvana Foa,Public Affairs Section, US AID-West Bank/Gaza Mission, Office: 972-3-511-4846, sfoa@US

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