JERUSALEM (Armenian Patriarchate Release)–Following negotiations between the representatives of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate in Israel–the Ministry of Defense of the State of Israel withdrew its original plan to seize a large portion of the Baron-Der property in order to build a security fence between Jerusalem and the north part of Bethlehem.
The Baron-Der property consists of about 143 (36 acres) dunams of agricultural land cultivated with 1600 trees olive trees–and containing antiquities and the ancient tombs.
In May 2002–the State of Israel announced it would construct a security fence between Jerusalem and the Aida refugee Camp–located at the north part of Bethlehem–a route that would split the Baron-Der property and render its use impossible.
Following negotiations–the State of Israel conceded to relocate the route of the fence–and returned possession of the Baron-Der property back to the Armenian Patriarchate–except for a strip at the southern edge of the property which is to be used temporarily for security and defense purposes.
The State of Israel has acknowledged the right of the Armenian Patriarchate to have free access to the Baron-Der property in order to cultivate the land and the olive trees–to hold pilgrimages to the property–and to perform religious services. The State of Israel has also agreed to compensate the Armenian Patriarchate for damages.
The Armenian Patriarchate–for all the moral support rendered in the issue of Baron-Der–expresses its appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia–to the Hierarchical Heads of the Armenian Orthodox Church–to the Diocesan Leaders–to Armenian and non-Armenian organizations–and especially to His Holiness the Pope John-Paul II and His Holiness Alexey II–the Patriarch of all Russia–who at the request of His Holiness Catholicos of all Armenia’s–prayed for the peaceful settlement of the issue.