Walking into to the Old City via the Jaffa Gate can make a Jewish person a bit queezy about visiting the Holy City. You’ve just left the Jewish Mamilla Mall and enter into an Arab world. Arab vendors, Arab buildings, Arab shouting and a very Arabic atmosphere. It is not exactly the homecoming many foreigners expect. Many skirt around the Shaar Yafo Shuk and take the longer route to the Western Wall through the Jewish Quarter.
Now the ambience is about to change! After a sixteen year legal battle the war is over. Ateret Cohanim has emerged victorious over the Greek Church and is set to take possesion of a few Old City properties including Hotel Imperial. Ateret Cohanim is an organization whose mission is the make the Old City Jewish. They purchase Arab owned properties and currently have a Yeshiva in the Muslim Quarter and currently own around 70 properties.
Back in 2004 Ateret Cohanim, under a veil of secrecy, purchased a 99 year lease to three properties from the Greek Church. When the purchase became public it caused a scandal in the reek Orthodox Church ending in the Patriarch Irenaios Skopelitis being deposed. Ever since then the Church has been fighting to void the sale claiming the person who signed off on it was bribed and did not have the authority to do so.
The last Israel court has now rejected their claim. Ateret Cohanim will now move forward in evicting the current ocuppiers (doesn’t that word sound funny?) There is no word yet as to what the building will be used for. But we all wait with baited breathe, for certainly things will change.