ISRAEL SAID TO SEIZE ARMENIAN PATRIARCHATE LAND NEAR BETHLEH
Posted 23 July 2002 - 08:27 AM
Posted 23 July 2002 - 10:40 AM
ARMENIAN PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM
Jerusalem, israel 91141
Contact: Fr. Pakrad Bourdjekian
Tel: 9722-626-4866; FAX: 6264862
NOTE: The following is the Armenian Patriarchate's detailed official
statement about the situation concerning the Patriarchate's property at
Baron Der (Bethlehem)
Armenian Patriarchate's View On The Baron Der Issue
The property of Baron Der is so named after a renowned and saintly Armenian
Patriarch, Grigor Baron Der (1560-1645), who used it as a retreat for
devotion and hermitage. According to historical documents, the said
Patriarch lived there, and since then the place was used by Armenian clergy
for worship, reclusion, and meditation.
Located north of Aida camp - Bethlehem and south of Tantour, Baron Der
consists of approximately 143 dunums of archaeological land with ancient
caves and tombs, as well as hundreds-of-years-old olive trees (1600 trees)
in the vicinity. Within the property, in the south, stands a monastic
building, which serves as residence for Armenian monks who officiate in the
Nativity Church of Bethlehem. Armenian monks from Jerusalem also go there
for their annual retreat and spiritual training.
The Baron Der matter began long before the issuing of a military order by
the State of Israel through its Chief Commander for the West Bank, General
Itshaq Eitan, and the Head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, General Amos
Yaron, to construct a security fence separating the Palestinian areas from
The incursion of the IDF into the said property during mid-2001 can be
considered a preliminary step toward the construction of the security fence,
which the Ministry of Defense is aiming to execute.
1. During the first week of May 2001 the IDF, without notifying the Armenian
Patriarchate, broke into the convent of Baron Der with the excuse of
security reasons. Upon the Patriarchate's complaint, the Ministry of Defense
issued a 6-month seizure order of the property, on the 16th of May 2001. The
IDF not only took possession of the said property, but also did not show
respect towards the monastic building, thereby destroying and causing
enormous interior and exterior damages to the convent and to the property as
well. Because of the siege imposed on the Bethlehem area, the Patriarchate
had to suffer in silence, hoping the encirclement would end, and then deal
with the issue. The Patriarchate enumerated the IDF-caused damages and sent
to them to the Ministry of Defense together with a letter of complaint on
the 14th of September 2001.
2. On the 27th of August 2001, during the incursion into the region of Beith
Jala, the IDF destroyed the wall enclosing the Baron Der convent and
trampled down the ancient olive trees under its tanks. In preliminary
preparation, the tanks opened the security road, which today the Ministry of
Defense aims to convert into a separation wall and a security road between
the West Bank and Israel. Armenian monks from Bethlehem went there
immediately to request that the IDF leave the property and deal with the
compensation of the extensive damages they had caused thereto. This request
was left without a response. The Armenian Patriarchate's architect visited
the property and enumerated the damages, estimated at approximately 77,000
USD. Through its attorney, the Patriarchate issued a letter of complaint,
together with the request for compensation on the 14th of September 2001.
3. Receiving no reply from the Ministry of Defense with regard to the
damages caused by the IDF during their incursion into the Beith Jala and
Bethlehem areas, on the 27th of November 2001, the Armenian Patriarchate
appealed in writing to the Italian Consul General, to the Special
Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, and to the
Minister of Public Works of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, for the
restorative renovations of the said damages.
4. On the 20th of December 2001, the IDF responded to the Armenian
Patriarchate's letter of complaint, denying the intrusion of the IDF into
the Patriarchate's property, and asserting that, in their view, the IDF had
never entered the said property and had not caused any of the damages stated
in the Patriarchate's letter of complaint. The IDF further added that if the
Patriarchate had any kind of dissatisfaction, it could write to the
committee of insurance and lawsuits of the Ministry of Defense.
5. On the 14th of January 2002, the Armenian Patriarchate received a letter
from the Ministry of Defense, stating that they were considering the issue
based on the Patriarchate's letter of complaint, dated the 14th of September
6. On the 25th of March 2002, the Armenian Patriarchate sent a letter
requesting an appropriate response by the Ministry of Defense. This was
7. On the 21st of April 2002, The IDF paved a military road, starting from
main road of Gilo and passing through the Baron Der property, thereby
dividing said property into two useless plots and reaching the main road to
Bethlehem. When paving the road, the IDF destroyed the tombs and the
antiquities and uprooted many of the hundreds-of-years-old olive trees. The
representative from the Armenian Patriarchate, Fr. Pakrad, went to Baron Der
and met with the Ministry of Defense advisor and IDF representative,
Commander Amitai Levi, who stated that the road is only for temporary use,
and as soon as the situation in the region calms down, they would restore
the area as it had been before. They also requested that the Patriarchate
allow them to lease the Baron Der convent as their headquarters, which the
Patriarchate refused. They further promised to put this request in writing,
which they never did. The Patriarchate convened an immediate Synod meeting
regarding this matter.
8. Until the 23rd of May 2002, the Armenian Patriarchate persistently
contacted Commander Amitai Levi, asking for the terms of their request in
writing, but to no avail. The Patriarchate issued a new letter of complaint
to the Ministry of Defense on the 23rd of May 2002, stating the following:
a. Recently the IDF opened a road of 1000 meters in length within the
Armenian Patriarchate's property called Baron Der, and this without the
consent and the knowledge of the Patriarchate. The IDF is aiming to
construct a separation wall, which can cause enormous damages to the sacred
b. During the meetings of the Armenian Patriarchate's representatives with
the Ministry of Defense, it was suggested and agreed that the wall to be
constructed shall be the existing wall, separating the Baron Der property
from Aida refugee camp.
c. The Armenian Patriarchate requested the Ministry of Defense give the
necessary orders to the IDF to act accordingly so as not to cause any
further damages to the Patriarchate and to its property.
9. On the 19th of June 2002, The Ministry of Defense and the IDF invited the
representatives of the Greek and Armenian Patriarchates to meet at the site
of the conflict and discuss the issue. During that meeting, Fr. Pakrad
objected to the plan and repeatedly demanded that the road be moved to the
existing wall separating the Baron Der property from Aida refugee camp.
10. As a result to the requests, the representative of the IDF and Ministry
of Defense, Shmuel Hamburger, on the 23rd of June 2002, delivered to the
Armenian Patriarchate a military order of laying hand on the Baron Der
property. This order was issued a long time after the opening of the
military road within said property, thereby dividing it into two useless
plots, contrary to the Patriarchate's consistent objections. The order was
issued by the State of Israel through its Chief Commander for the West Bank,
General Itshaq Eitan, and the Head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense,
General Amos Yaron, in order to construct a security fence separating the
Palestinian areas from Jerusalem. The area is located north of Aida refugee
camp - Bethlehem, and south of Tantour.
11. On the 25th of June 2002, for the second time, the Armenian Patriarchate
ordered its architect to prepare a project for the reconstruction of the
wall demolished by the IDF. The Bill of Quantities for this project was
estimated at 311,757 USD.
12. On the 26th of June 2002, upon the invitation of the Ministry of
Defense, the Armenian Patriarchate's attorney, Advocate Mazen Qupty, and
representatives from the Patriarchate went to Tel Aviv to meet with the
representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the IDF. During the meeting,
the Ministry of Defense representative, Mr. Shlomo Alon, stated that they
are ready to reduce the width of the road from 50 meters to 27 meters, but
they are not willing to move the road to the existing wall separating Baron
Der property from Aida refugee camp for security reasons. He stated that the
road that the Defense Ministry is planning to construct should become like
the frontier between Jordan and Israel. He also added that the Ministry of
Defense is interested in leasing the existing convent as their headquarters.
The Patriarchate representatives rejected such a proposal and requested a
reconsideration of this plan, for which purpose a Synod meeting was
13. On the 10th of July 2002, a meeting was convened at the Armenian
Patriarchate's Real Estate Office between the Patriarchate's
representatives, Advocate Mazen Qupty, and the representatives of the
Ministry of Defense and IDF, headed by Mr. Shlomo Alon. The Patriarchate's
request to move the security fence and the road to the existing wall
separating the Baron Der property from Aida refugee camp was not granted.
14. Having reached an impasse, on the 14th of July 2002, the Armenian
Patriarchate, through Advocate Mazen Qupty, issued a file of appeal
regarding its objections to the Ministry of Defense's plan to build a
security fence running through the Baron Der property and delivered said
file of appeal to the Appeal Court in Tel Aviv.
15. The issue was taken up by the worldwide media. Articles were published
concerning the said issue, sometimes misrepresenting the geographical
location of the said property. Local newspapers discussed the fact that the
holy site of Rachel's Tomb, which is not far from the Baron Der property,
was not taken within the security fence.
Clarifications on the Baron Der Question:
16. The Baron Der property is a sacred and archaeological site within the
region. Ever since 2001, Armenian monks have been unable to go on their
annual retreats there because of the current situation within the region.
17. The letter of clarification from the Embassy of Israel in Tbilisi to the
Foreign Ministry of Armenia, stating that the IDF temporarily seized 27
meters wide and 300-400 meters long agricultural land is not correct. The
Ministry of Defense has stated that the security fence is intended to be a
separation wall between the West Bank and Israel. Thus, the security fence
will divide the sacred property into two useless plots.
Despite all the efforts of the Armenian Patriarchate to avoid any such
conflicts, and despite all the correspondence of the Patriarchate to reach a
better understanding for a fair agreement on the issue, the Patriarchate's
requests were not granted and its letters were not answered.
The Armenian Patriarchate has no other alternative than, on the one hand, to
turn to the local and international media, and on the other hand, to appeal
to the High Court of Justice against such a plan.
Prepared by Fr. Pakrad Bourjekian
On the 20th of July 2002
Real Estates Office
Posted 23 July 2002 - 01:57 PM
Posted 23 July 2002 - 02:55 PM
Posted 23 July 2002 - 03:11 PM
I was referring to the Canadian Hungarian movie producer Lantos, not the American Hungarian Congressman Lantos. Again you think from your gut and not from your head. If you treat Jews as your enemy, they will repond as such. Are you sure that your perceptions are not more Jordanian than Armenian?
Posted 23 July 2002 - 03:14 PM
Rubo> I do not see the situation as no point of return. Your question of how we got into present situation is a valid one, which the answer any logical person can conclude does depend on not just Yerevan but Tel Aviv as well. Mr. Hagarag how do you know if Ter Petrosian and Kocharian administastion did not make an attempts to forge closer ties with Israel but basically rejected by Israel based on latter’s close ties with our arch adversary Turkey and Azerbaijan. During Azerbaijan conflict Israel did provide logistical support and food rations and military hardware via Turkey to Azerbaijan. You also avoiding once again Israeli, Jewish lobby efforts in Washington to deny the AG and other issues as well!!!!!!! Could you please bring me an example when Armenia since independence lobbied against Israel or denied Holocaust? So how is Armenia anti Israel just because she chooses to forge friendly relations with other nations?
Hagarag>If Ankara can hold its close ties to Israel while forging ties to Teheran and the Palestinians, why can't Yerevan build closer ties to Israel?
Rubo>Israel does not need Armenia as much as Turkey and Israel will not upset its relations with Turkey to do so! Again it is not all depended on Yerevan!
Hagarag>Must a local Armenian Bishop be the only one to try to build ties with the Jews? Until our Church hierarchy is cleansed of anti--Jewish sentiments our situation in Israel will continue to deteriorate.
Rhetorical comment without substance, Yerevan is on constant contact with Israel and you should be careful of raising the classical Jewish defense tactic of Anti-Semitism. When Jerusalem Armenians get trashed by Hasidic Jews I hoped you also wrote a protest comment in Jewish forums or you also blamed the Armenians.
Posted 23 July 2002 - 07:17 PM
Posted 24 July 2002 - 11:45 AM
Sarkis Assadourian M.P., Chairman of the Canada Armenia parliamentary Friendship Group organized July 22 a meeting between leaders of the Canadian Armenian Community and Meir Romem, Israeli Consul General (Toronto), to discuss issues of importance. Topics discussed included, the situation in the Middle East, Israel's position regarding the Armenian Genocide and current events in Canada. The meeting was held at the AGBU Alex Manougian center.
At the conclusion of the meeting, special guest Right Reverend Bishop Shirvanian, Director of Ecumenical and Foreign Relations of the Armenian Patriarchate spoke on the state of the Armenian properties and the general state of the Community in the Holy Land, he also stated that the Armenian Church has initiated legal action against the Israeli Government in regards to the building of new "security fences" that threaten to tear apart the Armenian Community.
"I am pleased that as a consequence of my correspondence with the Israeli Foreign Minister over 20 leaders of the Canadian Armenian Community gathered to have a constructive dialogue on the Genocide and Middle East issues. I trust that Mr. Peres will take into account the views of Canadian Armenians," said Assadourian.
© Copyright AZG
Posted 24 July 2002 - 11:46 AM
The daily Azg received July 23 information from the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem regarding the Armenian land and property in Israel, seized by the Israeli army on pretext of erecting a separating wall.
The information, signed by Father Bagrat, an inspector of the estate, tells on several pages the entire history of the seizure. It appears that that the encroachment on the Armenian Church land and property began still in 2001 May, when the Israeli army invaded, without informing the Patriarchate, into the so-called Baron-Der estate, belonging to the Armenian Church. After the Patriarchate’s complaints the Israeli army issued an official order for seizure of the land for 6 months because of security reasons. The message from Jerusalem says that over that period of time the Israeli army displayed a complete disregard towards the Armenian monastery and Armenian church property. Moreover, in 2002 August the army destroyed the wall of the estate and dozens of olive trees. All the complaints of the Patriarchate remained unanswered.
Late in 2002 April 21 the army opened a military road across the estate from a settlement called Gilo up to Bethlehem. This compelled the Patriarchate to send a petition to the Israeli defense ministry demanding that the “separation” wall and the military road be moved out from the estate’s territory, but when the ministry did not respond , the problem became the property of the press.
“The Armenian Patriarchate has nothing to do but to appeal to the international community on the one hand and on the other hand to seek justice at the Highest Court of Israel. The message from Jerusalem also refers to an official letter of the Israeli embassy to Armenia, based in neighboring Georgia, to the Armenian foreign affairs ministry, which claims that the land plot in question is some 27 meter wide and 300 meter long space, which, the message says is not true. The separation wall will take apart the entire estate.
© Copyright AZG
Posted 24 July 2002 - 08:52 PM
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The other day, one of the central British newspapers "Financial Times" stated about the seizure of the land belonging to the Armenian Patriarchy of Jerusalem. According to the article, the leaders of the Armenian community accuse Israel of that the seizure of the church land does not aim at the security strengthening as the Israeli authorities claim but it is an attempt to expand its borders along the western bank of Jordan river. The 40-meter wall is to stretch along the full length of the church territory and will become the part of the 350-meter fence that is being built along the western bank of Jordan river and around Jerusalem in order to prevent terror. The article states the leadership of the Armenian church considers the main reason for the land seizure is Israel's wish to guarantee personal access to Jesus Christ's grave and the Armenian church is in the center of the territorial controversy against its will. As the newspaper stated, the representatives of the Armenian authorities addressed Israeli premier Simon Peres urging to recognize the fact of the land seizure as a violation of the rights of the Armenian Apostolic Church. At the meetings with the Armenian party, the Israeli authorities state the order on the seizure of the land is irrevocable. In response, the church appealed to the Supreme Court of Israel. At present the construction activities for the wall building are stopped temporarily, the newspaper states.
<!> Reproduction in full or in part is prohibited without reference to "PanARMENIAN.Net"
Posted 28 July 2002 - 07:00 PM
Posted 28 July 2002 - 08:51 PM
Originally posted by Rubo:
Dear MJ,Since you started this thread it would be proper to have your opinion as well. So far we got news clips from you, just curious.
Posted 07 August 2002 - 05:12 PM
Armenians Should Form a Human Wall
In Front of Israeli Embassies Worldwide
By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
After a brief period of inaction, Armenians finally reacted to Israel's
seizure of Armenian Church property near Bethlehem. Armenian-American
organizations sent letters of protest to U.S. and Israeli officials. The
Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II sent a politely-worded letter to
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urging him "to find a reasonable alternative"
to building a fence which passes right through the middle of the Armenian
A much more forceful statement was released by Catholicos Aram I of the
Great House of Cilicia. He demanded that "the Israeli army withdraw from
the lands and holy site belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate in
Jerusalem," and said that "the forceful usurpation of land and property and
the violation of individual rights has always been an important component
of Israeli diplomacy." Catholicos Aram I said he is raising this issue with
the World Council of Churches, the Vatican, and other international
On July 31, Bob Edgar, the General Secretary of the National Council of
Churches, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Sharon on behalf of the
organization's 36 Orthodox and Protestant churches in the United States,
with a total membership of 50 million Americans. "It is with a sense of
alarm that I write to ask your assistance in resolving a situation in which
recent actions of the Israeli government have infringed on the
rights of the Armenian Orthodox Church," Edgar wrote. He requested that
Israel return "to its rightful owners" the "sacred Armenian Church
The most important development on this subject last week was the official
letter written by A. Amor, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom
of Religion or Belief, to the Government of Israel. He drew to the
attention of Israeli authorities the resolution adopted by the Commission
on Human Rights on April 23, 2002, which urged member states "to exact
utmost efforts, in accordance with their national legislation and in
conformity with international human rights standards, to ensure that
religious places, sites and shrines are fully respected and protected and
to take additional measures in cases where they are vulnerable to
desecration or destruction."
In order to bolster Mr. Amor's commendable efforts, the Armenian government
(as a member of the UN Human Rights Commission), other governments,
non-governmental organization, and individuals should send letters to the
High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva, 1211
Geneva, Switzerland, and demand that the UN investigate the Israeli
confiscation of Armenian Church property under the UN's "1503 procedure"
(confidential communication). The U.N. would then formally investigate the
Israeli violations and demand corrective actions.
An even more serious step would be the releasing of a statement signed by a
large number of US Congressmen and Senators urging Israel not to infringe
on the religious rights of the Armenian community. As the Congress decides
the amount of foreign aid provided to Israel (several billion dollars each
year), Israeli officials may pay a little more attention to those who
control the purse strings than to those who issue moral appeals.
Armenian-Americans should hold protest rallies by forming a human wall in
front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Israeli Mission to
the U.N. in New York, and the Israeli Consulates in Los Angeles and other
U.S. cities. Similar protest actions should be held in front of Israeli
Embassies in more than 50 countries where there are Armenian communities.
These human walls should not come down until Israel brings down the fence
which desecrates the Armenian Church property near Bethlehem.
Posted 08 August 2002 - 11:00 AM
Originally posted by Rubo:
I respect Harut
Posted 08 August 2002 - 06:05 AM
JEWISH COMMITTEE OF AMERICA CAME OUT AGAINST SEIZURE OF ARMENIAN PATRIARCHY LANDS IN JERUSALEM
- August 08, 2002 18:12
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Jewish Committee of America has expressed serious concern regarding the Israeli army seizure of the lands of the Armenian patriarchy in Jerusalem. The Committee leadership has called upon the defense ministry of Israel to closely cooperate with the Armenian patriarchy in construction of the dividing wall between Israel and Palestine. The message in particular notes that for many years the Armenian and Jewish communities have made every effort to achieve comprehensive understanding and mutual respect. Meanwhile, according to the report of the Armenian patriarchy of Jerusalem, the Armenian church leaders do not object to building the separating wall in principle, but they consider laying it through the patriarchy territory unacceptable. The leaders of various religious confessions have also appealed to the Israeli authorities calling them to investigate the fact of the patriarchal land takeover. As secretary general of the National Council of Churches Robert Edgar noted in his message addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the fact causes anxiety of other religious minorities of Israel, too.
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