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Cablegate: Goj Reverses Course and Recognizes Greek Patriarch

VZCZCXRO4101
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHAM #2538 1641429
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131429Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9039
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 0730

UNCLAS AMMAN 002538

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI KWBG JO IS
SUBJECT: GOJ REVERSES COURSE AND RECOGNIZES GREEK PATRIARCH
THEOPHILOS III

REF: A. AMMAN 2305
B. AMMAN 2241
C. ATHENS 1021
D. JERUSALEM 225

1. (U) A month-long disagreement between the Government of
Jordan and the Greek Orthodox Church ended on June 12. Local
media reported that the GOJ reversed its May 12 decision to
withdraw recognition of Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek
Orthodox Church in Jerusalem (ref b). At a June 12 press
conference, Government Spokesman Nasser Judeh explained that
"the cabinet has become convinced that Theophilos has honored
all the commitments he undertook when he was appointed as
patriarch in 2005."

2. (U) The cabinet's decision came after Theophilos wrote two
letters to Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, and issued
a statement confirming that no church lands were sold under
his tenure. The decision was announced just in advance of a
June 12 visit to Amman by Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis.

3. (SBU) Dr. Raouf Abu Jaber, Chairman of the Orthodox
Society in Amman, told poloff that the Arab Orthodox
community was displeased with Theophilos' leadership and news
of the GOJ reversal. Abu Jaber said that Arab Orthodox
Christians resent the lack of Arab - specifically Jordanian -
membership in the Holy Synod and Brotherhood of the Holy
Sepulcher (ref A). He accused the Greek Government of
exerting pressure on the GOJ and the Palestinian Authority to
recognize Theophilos. Abu Jaber remains convinced that "the
monks in Greece" - as he refers to the Holy Synod -- care
only about the profits they make from the church's lands in
Jerusalem. COMMENT: In fact, Jordan's Arab Orthodox
community is split into pro- and anti-Theophilos camps. END
COMMENT.

Visit Amman's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman/
Hale

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