Imperial Hotel Tenants Resent Letter From New Owner

The new owners of the Imperial Hotel - the building near Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate whose alleged sale to Jews by the Greek Orthodox patriarch outraged the local Arab community and sparked efforts to oust him - recently made their first contact with hotel residents, but their identity remains unclear.

The Dajani family, one of the tenants, said they received a letter 10 days ago from attorney Yosef Richter, representing the Richards Marketing Corporation - an offshore company thought to be associated with settler groups, which obtained a 198-year lease on the hotel from an agent of Patriarch Irineos.

Irineos claims that the deal was made without his knowledge or consent.

In the letter, Richter noted the Dajanis' status as protected tenants in the building and explained that Richards had bought the hotel from the patriarch, and therefore, all the Dajanis' "debts and obligations toward the patriarchy" are now due instead to Richards.

He also asked them to arrange a meeting with him and to give him documentation detailing their rights to the building.

The Dajanis said that they refused to respond to the letter, instead contacting Metropolitan Cornelius and asking him to help them annul the sale.

Cornelius was chosen as Irineos' replacement by the church's Holy Synod when it voted to oust Irineos. However, his legal status is unclear, since Irineos is fighting the ouster and the relevant governmental authorities have not yet approved the change.