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Nov 16, 5:56 AM EST

Christian Arabs protest Greek patriarch on Israel land deals

Past Olympic Mascots

LOD, Israel (AP) -- Dozens of Christian Arabs have protested against the Greek Orthodox patriarch of the Holy Land, demanding the resignation of Theophilos III for allegedly selling church land to Israelis.

Some 50 demonstrators rallied Thursday outside St. George Church in central Israel where Theophilos had arrived to pray. Some waved banners calling him "not trustworthy." Others scuffled with Theophilos' supporters.

The church is one of the largest real estate owners in the Holy Land. It is dominated by Greek clergy while the flock is overwhelmingly Palestinian.

Activists have presented documents the patriarch sold land in sweetheart deals. An Israeli court has upheld the transactions, conducted by Theophilos' since-deposed predecessor.

Demonstrator Ghassan Mounayer accused the church of giving land to "Jewish businessmen instead of investing it in the well-being of the Christian community."

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