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The Interior Minister & The Churches

For a representative of the extreme-secularist Shinui party, Interior Minister Avraham Poraz is making a lot of efforts recently on behalf of religious leaders – Christian religious leaders, that is.
First Publish: 3/31/2004, 2:46 PM / Last Update: 3/31/2004, 4:36 PM

In an exclusive report, Arutz-7 correspondent Shimon Cohen revealed that Greek Orthodox church leader Irineos - a known anti-Semite with strong ties to Yasser Arafat - was invited to the offices of Interior Minister Poraz tonight (Wednesday) to receive his official letter of appointment from the Israeli government.

Just last week, the government filed its response with the court to the appeal by a Greek Orthodox Christian living in the Galilee, Yusuf Naaman Nasser, who had claimed that the appointment of a man who is "corrupt and devoid of moral values" at the head of his church was a violation of his religious rights. Many of the leaders of the Greek Orthodox church in Israel support Nasser's appeal. Earlier this month, the court rejected another appeal against the appointment brought by Yosef Laufer regarding Irineos' ties with the PA leadership and claims of blackmail, threats and bribery.

The moment the invitation was received last night, Irineos called for a meeting of the church synod. Church sources report concern that Irineos will carry out a purge of those who objected to his appointment.

In another of his efforts for the benefit of church leaders, Minister Poraz yesterday requested of the commander of the immigration police not to arrest church leaders (such as pastors) even if they are in the country illegally. Poraz insisted that each time an illegal immigrant church leader is discovered, he or she be brought to the Ministry of the Interior for investigation and not to the police department.

Minister Poraz stated that his initiative favoring the illegal immigrant pastors was to ensure freedom of religion for all. "The permits for religious leaders must be forthcoming without unnecessary delay," Poraz said. The Minister will be calling a staff meeting to emphasize the change in policy.

This new directive is in contradistinction to a policy change announced earlier this month by Minister Poraz, to the effect that immigration to Israel from India and Peru by those seeking halachic conversions to Judaism will be frozen.