(JNS.org) The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is the second-largest landowner in Israel, has sold prime real estate near the iconic clock tower in Jaffa to private investors, the Israeli financial news outlet Calcalist reported Tuesday.
The clock tower deal was initiated in 1998 when the patriarchate sold a 99-year lease for $1.5 million to a company called “Clock Quarter,” conditional upon a pledge that the company would give the church 35 percent of anything constructed on the land, according to Calcalist.
The revelation follows a report Monday that the patriarchate secretly sold off 700 dunams (172 acres) of land in Caesarea last month, including the ancient Roman amphitheater and hippodrome there, for an undisclosed sum to an ambiguous Caribbean-based holding company called Saint Ventures Limited. The Caesarea deal included large portions of land designated as a national park, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Sunday.
Further, in early July, the patriarchate secretly sold 500 dunams (123 acres) of property in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Jerusalem to private real estate companies, placing homeowners at risk of needing to pay large sums to renew their leaseholds or to sell their property and relocate.