The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has condemned the seizure of a historic hotel in the occupied city by a settlers group.
On Sunday, Israeli police forces and members of Ateret Cohanim group forced their way into the historic Petra Hotel and seized a part of it.
The hotel, which the church says it owns, is usually used by Christian pilgrims as it falls on their pilgrimage route.
The historic hotel is located at the entrance to Bab Al-Khalil (Gate of Hebron), one of the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City, which leads to the Christian and Armenian quarters in the city and to Christian holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is considered one of the most sacred religious sites for Christians around the world.
“The seizure of the Little Petra Hotel by the radical extremist group Ateret Cohanim is a threat to the continued existence of a Christian Quarter in Jerusalem,” the patriarchate said in a statement carried by Orthodox Times website.
The patriarchate warned against the repeated illegitimate Israeli actions which “followed a pattern of intimidation, violence, and lawless action to drive Christians and Muslims from the city that we share.”
Ateret Cohanim, a group that works to establish a Jewish majority in Jerusalem’s Old City, claims that it had bought Little Petra hotel.
Israeli courts are still looking into the dispute between the two parties and have not decided on the ownership.
The Israeli move “will lead to instability and tension at a time when all are trying to de-escalate and build trust, to build toward justice and peace,” the patriarchate warned.
“Acts of coercion and violence cannot lead to peace,” it said, demanding a halt of “criminal activities on the Christian pilgrim route and in our beloved Old City.”