Greek Orthodox church aims to block property sale in court

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The Greek Orthodox patriarch in the Holy Land says his church will appeal an Israeli court decision that approved the sale of prime church property to companies representing Jews seeking to expand their presence in Jerusalem's Old City.

Theophilos III told reporters in Jordan's capital Saturday that the church would appeal to Israel's high court against what he called a "politically motivated" ruling by a lower court.

The ruling paved the way for three large properties near the Old City's Jaffa Gate to be leased for 99 years to Ateret Cohanim, a group that has been buying properties for Jews in traditionally Arab neighborhoods.

The church has said the sale was conducted illegally by the since-deposed previous patriarch.

Theophilos represents about 220,000 Christians in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.