By Hagop Hagopian, Canada, 8 October 2022
According to reliable Jerusalem sources, two weeks ago Baret Yeretsian, the vartabed who is real estate director of the Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate, was refused entry into neigbouring Jordan.
Yeretsian has been the driving force in the scandalous and illegal leasing of the Patriarchate’s Goveroun Bardez (“Cows’ Garden”) and the much-prized business buildings in West Jerusalem to Jewish/Israeli developers. The government of Jordan, along with the Palestinian Authority oppose the handing of these Armenian lands to the Israelis. The two Arab governments have made frequent representation, in writing and in person, to the Patriachate to rescind the 99-year leases. They have even offered to pay for legal costs related to the withdrawal of the Patriarchate’s signatures from the leases. Yeretsian has worked closely with Patriarch Nourhan Manougian and Archbishop Sevan Gharibian who was forced to sign the Goveroun Bardez lease. Despite opposition to the illegal leases by Armenian clergymen in the Holy Land and outside, the local Armenian community and the Armenian media in the diaspora and Armenia, the shameful trio has played havoc with Armenian-owned lands in the Holy Land.
Yeretsian, who is still a vartabed more than fifty years after being ordained, has frequently tangled with the Palestinian Authority regarding the illegal leases. A year ago, he gave up his Jordanian citizenship. Like Patriarch Nourhan he holds U.S passport. Seven years ago, Jordan banned the entry of Patriarch Nourhan to Jordan and in the past year confiscated the passport of Gharibian. Patriarch Nourhan, Yeretsian, and Gharibian now hold Israeli ID only.
The Jordanian government’s refusal to allow Yeretsian’s entry to Jordan completes the isolation of the three most senior officials of the Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate from Arab governments and public. It also severely weakens the 1,600-year Armenian presence in the Holy Land.