Protests broke out in Bethlehem as Palestinians– Muslim and Christian alike, as Patriarch Theophilos III arrived in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas services on January 6, 2018.
The head of the Greek Orthodox church has been accused of selling off large parts of land to unknown businessmen in multi-million dollar deals.
The protests have united Palestinians of both Muslim and Orthodox Christian background against the largely-ethnic Greek-born leadership of the Church.
Angry protesters chanted and threw eggs at the convoy of the Patriarch Theophilos III, who was visiting the Church of the Nativity for services marking the Orthodox Christmas Eve.
Many Orthodox Christians, including those in Jerusalem, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7.
Theophilos has been at the epicentre of public anger after allegations emerged that he was pandering to Israeli interests by selling off land to hardline Jewish settlers in prime locations in Jerusalem’s Old City, areas that were sacred to the Christian community, as well as the city’s Muslim Palestinians.
A protest calling for the removal of Theophilos III was also held in September following the publication of reports claiming that he had colluded with a hard-line Jewish settler organization.