The biggest existential threat facing Jerusalem’s Armenian community…here are the details | Jerusalem News

Occupied Jerusalem—— Israeli settlers took advantage of the world’s attention on Gaza after October 7 last year to try to fence off the Armenian community. Jerusalem occupation, through a “leak deal” that Armenians call the most dangerous and disastrous deal in the region’s history.

The most recent violation occurred on November 5, when 15 armed settlers and their dogs stormed a plot of land in the Armenian community known as the “Cow Garden” and dismantled part of the vehicle parking fence.

Subsequently, they did so again on the 15th and 16th of this month under the protection of the occupation police. The occupation police ordered the nearby Armenian Christian residents to evacuate immediately, and arrested 3 people, including an underage boy, and Two of them were expelled. 15 days away from land.

In response to these threats, dozens of Armenian Jerusalemites held sit-ins on the “Cow Garden” land for weeks, coinciding with the Armenian Patriarchate’s decision to cancel the “Diversion Agreement.” This is a common term in Jerusalem that refers to a secret contract or sale deal made secretly to Israeli or international parties under Israeli cover and the 6 Armenian lawyers from the United States who came to study the case for the defense and the cancellation of the case Methods.

In addition to constant incursions and attempts to seize land, the settlers appointed a guard company and set up a barrier at the entrance to the “cattle park” to prevent Armenians from entering or parking their vehicles. In response to settlers dismantling the wall surrounding part of the land, Armenians surrounded the site with barriers and physically blocked the advance of the occupiers’ bulldozers.

Commissioned photo album – Armenian Quarter
Residents of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem are conducting a sit-in to oppose the disposal or sale of their land (Al Jazeera)

Two disastrous transactions

Armenians in Jerusalem talked about two important agreements that contained many details that sparked settlers’ interest in the land. The first agreement was signed in 2020 between the Armenian Patriarchate and the Occupied Territory of Jerusalem to lease part of the land, and the second agreement was signed in 2020. In 2021, Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manoogian and a man named Danny Rotman Rubinstein monopolized the same land and jointly invested, including building a hotel.

Al Jazeera spoke to Simon Azazian, a consultant on church affairs in the Middle East, but he preferred to publish a wide-ranging article published a few days earlier in which he described the second deal as “disastrous” .

He added that the area of ​​the “Cow Garden” is about 7500 square meters, but the second agreement talks about an area of ​​about 11500 square meters, which means that it includes the residences of 5 Armenian families, the seminary (seminars), The Armenian Museum, as well as the parking lot, occupy 25% of the total area of ​​the monastery. All Armenians.

Azazian said the deal included a clause allowing the sale of shares to third parties without the Patriarchate’s approval, in addition to the possibility of allocating other lands in the future “if they do not conflict with the Patriarchate’s plans” .

Commissioned photo album – Armenian Quarter
Israeli bulldozers await permission to work on land in Armenian district (Al Jazeera)

Transaction parties

The parties to the ecclesial deal are the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manoogian, vicar general Bishop Sevan Gharibian and the director of the patriarchate’s real estate department, Barry Barit. Yerez language.

While Manoukian, whose admissions were frozen by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, denied any knowledge of the deal, Yeltsin said it was purely a commercial deal, but he was isolated and expelled from neighboring countries and headed to the United States.

On October 26, the Armenian Patriarchate issued a statement declaring that the agreement signed in 2021 was invalid, but it received no response from the other party. The other party has recently been eager to implement it with force on the ground.

The Patriarchate said in its media that Danny Rotman, who signed the agreement, pretended to be an Australian businessman in front of her clients, but later it turned out that he was an Israeli resident of the Ra’anana settlement and Have long-term residency. A history of fraud and deception.

She added that the businessman was “just a middleman because he announced last April that he was transferring 49% of his company (Zana) to an Israeli named George Worr and that he intended to sell it all transfer so that the latter becomes the sole owner.”

She said an investigation conducted by clients of the patriarchate revealed that the two men Ties with the Ateret Cohanim settlement association, which is responsible for purchasing much of the real estate in Jerusalem’s Old City for the benefit of settlers.

Ignore cancellation

The Armenian Patriarchate warned in a Nov. 16 statement that it “faces the greatest existential threat in its history when developers seeking to purchase approximately 25 percent of the Armenian Patriarchate ignore the Patriarchate’s message to cancel the deal and Demolition work begins.”

She called on Jerusalem’s Christian community to stand with her, and the city’s patriarch and church leaders issued a statement on November 18 supporting “the decision of the Armenian Patriarchate and the Armenian community to take appropriate legal action.” Take steps to cancel the transaction. “

Al Jazeera Network then went to the Armenian community and met with some residents who were protesting in the community against the leak of some of the content. A resident of the neighborhood, who asked not to be named, said she supported the sit-in and prepared a plate of mujaddara (lentils and rice) to feed the protesters.

She lamented: “Without the approval of the bishop, this transaction could not have been completed. Where did the money go? This land is a pearl, how can he sell it and harm people? Even the bishop cannot park his car today Parking lot.” We will continue to work until the land is reclaimed, even if it takes years. “

As for the Armenian Jerusalem Movement activist Strak Balian, he told Al Jazeera that they believe there is a possible connection between the settlers and the 2021 agreement, stressing that according to the domestic law of the Patriarchate, the agreement is invalid and Illegal “because any decision must be approved by 30 Khawarna (clergy).” Mar Yacoub, the police did not show us any court eviction order, they just came like thugs from a security company. “

old existence

In the fourth century AD, Armenians inhabited the city of Jerusalem and owned a block within the walls of Jerusalem southwest of the Old City, covering an area of ​​300 dunams (one thousand square meters), or one-sixth of the area of ​​Jerusalem. ​​Old City.

The Armenians also received a formal recognition decree from the Caliph Omar bin Khattab (may God be pleased with him), guaranteeing their rights with a stone tablet engraved at the entrance to the Armenian monastery. The community also includes the second largest Armenian manuscript library in the world and the oldest printing press in Jerusalem.

Before the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the number of Armenians in Palestine was approximately 25,000, but this later dropped to 1,000 and was restricted to the Armenian Quarter.

The importance of the Armenian Quarter lies in its location within the walls of Jerusalem, close to the present Jewish Quarter, and its extension between Khalil and the Prophet David, coinciding with a wave of confiscations of Islamic and Christian property, most notably Transactions of the “Petra” and “Imperial” hotels belonging to the Orthodox Church near Khalil Gate.

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