Hundreds of Palestinians blocked Patriarch Theophilos III's convoy as he headed for a church in Bethlehem to attend an Orthodox Christmas mass.
Palestinian police had to intervene as three cars in the convoy, excluding the patriarch’s vehicle, had their windows smashed in the protest.
The reason for the discord appears to be a vast territory in the Holy Land owned by Greek Orthodox Church and now leased out long-term to residents.
Recently, the Church authorities caused controversy when they expressed their willingness to sell the land to private investors to pay off their debts.
Israeli media have reported that the deals presumably include properties in occupied Jerusalem, likewise in the port cities of Caesarea and Jaffa. They named some Jewish and Israeli investors as potential buyers, Gulfnews wrote. Palestinians, meanwhile, strongly oppose to the Greek Church selling lands to Israelis – a move they regard as treason.
Elyeef Sayegh, one of Saturday’s demonstrators, said: "What happened today is a message to the Palestinian Authority and to Jordan that we will not allow this traitor to stay in the Church."