Jerusalem patriarch is defiant

Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem will not negotiate with the Israeli government over its apparent refusal to officially recognize him, Patriarchate sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Theophilos was elected as the head of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem in August 2005 but Israel has yet to recognize him. Last month, Israel asked its Supreme Court for a two-month extension after the Patriarch took legal action against the government. Sources claimed that the Israeli government has asked Theophilos to approve the transfer by his predecessor, Irenaios, of Patriarchate property in Jerusalem to Jewish investors before Tel Aviv approves his election. Orthodox clerics ousted Irenaios in May 2005 after reports of deals for several prime buildings in Jerusalem’s Old City. Theophilos has made it clear he does not back the deal to lease the Church’s land. Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have approved Theophilos’s appointment but Israel’s nod is also needed so he can be legally recognized as the patriarch.