The local press recently disclosed how a sizable property belonging to the Presbyterian Church located in Palestine between Bethlehem and Hebron, was sold to buyers who intend to turn it into a new Jewish settlement. The Latin Patriarchate condemns such an act, and underscores the critical implications for Christian heritage and life of the local Christian community.
The site, located near the Aroub Palestinian refugee camp on the main road (Highway 60), between Bethlehem and Hebron, was allegedly bought three years ago by a right wing activist Aryeh King, according to the local press.
Reconstruction work in the compound has been ongoing for the past two months with plans to bring in new residents of about twenty settler families. The site is a 38-dunam (9.5-acre) complex with eight buildings.
The location of the complex is of strategic importance for the settlers who seek to expand more and more in the area between Etzion and Hebron where the Karmel Tzur settlement is located in the midst of several Palestinian villages.
According to media reports, a Swedish company created in 2007 would have been used to cover the sale of the Church and its compound. The purchase of the property would have been then registered with the Israeli civil administration by this same Swedish group in 2012, just before the company announced its dissolution. The Swedish company and the property passed to new ownership – the nonprofit organization American Friends of the Everest Foundation which operates in East Jerusalem and aggressively buying houses and other Palestinian properties in the area at high prices, funded by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz.
An incomprehensible and most complicated entanglement with serious consequences for the Palestinian Christian community. The Latin Patriarchate is very disturbed by these revelations and strongly denounces these acts.