November 26, 2023
Statement of the Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) on the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem

November 26, 2023, Gyumri-Yerevan

The Armenian National Platform of the EaP CSF strongly condemns the act of terrorism carried out by Hamas against Israel and the subsequent humanitarian siege and indiscriminate bombing of the residential areas of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army. Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilians were killed as a result of the operations on both sides. An extreme humanitarian crisis has arisen in the region. We express our deepest condolences regarding the many casualties among the civilian population of both nations.
At the same time, the unfolding war should not become a cover for the unlawful actions of Israel’s law enforcement agencies and state-supported companies, which are being carried out against the Armenian community in Jerusalem. In particular, it has been a long time since we witnessed the impermissible pressures and illegal actions against the 1700-year-old Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, the Armenian community and the Armenian Patriarchate.
We condemn the illegal and groundless actions of the Israeli police and armed forces in the lands and territories belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate and the Armenian community in the Old City of Jerusalem. “Xana Capital”, a company directly sponsored by the Israeli authorities, justifies these actions with a 99-year lease right deal obtained in a suspicious and shady way to the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem, the area called “Cows’ Garden”, which was canceled by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem on the grounds of illegality.
We call on the Israeli authorities, including the police and the armed forces, to refrain from such actions that would violate the religious, ethnic, and property rights of the Armenian community, and would disrupt the centuries-old religious and ethnic balance in the Old City of Jerusalem.
We call for an immediate stop to the occupation of the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the area called “Cows’ Garden” which belonged to the Armenian community and the Armenian Patriarchate for centuries.
We express our unconditional support to the Armenian community fighting for the 1700-year-old Armenian presence and integrity in the Old City of Jerusalem in these difficult days.

Brief information about the situation.
Two years ago, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem leased a part (25%) of the 1,700-year-old Armenian Quarter under the name “Cows’ Garden” to the Israeli company “Xana Capital” for a period of 99 years. This area is located on Mount Zion. This is the highest point of the Old City of Jerusalem. In this area houses are belonging to 5 Armenian families, Armenian educational centers, clubs, etc.
The local Armenian community was against the lease transaction, as the transaction was done in secret, in violation of the provisions of the Armenian Patriarchate’s charter and existing laws. Considering these circumstances, the Armenian Patriarchate unilaterally canceled the lease agreement with “Xana Capital” company a few days ago.
After which, in fact, the representatives of the “Xana Capital” company sponsored by the Israeli authorities, the police, and the armed forces entered this area belonging to the Armenian community and the Patriarchate and started illegally demolishing the fences, asphalt, etc. Several young Armenians tried to prevent these illegal activities and were arrested. The armed forces regularly come and go to this area of the Armenian Quarter.

In fact, under the patronage of the Israeli authorities, the “Xana Capital” company wants to occupy 25% of the Armenian quarter.
Representatives of the Armenian community have set up tents and are patrolling this area in order to prevent the occupation of the territory belonging to the Armenian community.
The French Embassy in Israel and the Christian churches of Jerusalem and a number of other organizations have already issued statements condemning the illegal actions of the “Israeli side” and supporting the Armenian community and the Patriarchate.

The situation remains tense and uncertain.