The Damascus Gate property
The Damascus Gate propertyArieh King

Jerusalem Councilman Arieh King, who is also founder and chairman of the Israel Land Fund (ILF), announced this week that despite his organization's efforts, a strategic historic Jewish property by the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City was lost to Arab buyers.

The property, which he notes has been in Jewish hands since the 1910s, was the last Jewish owned building in the area of the gate. King previously said ILF already had half of the required sum, and three million shekels (over $750,000) were needed to prevent it from falling into Arab hands.

"Currently, I am unfortunately forced to inform you all that despite the fact that dozens contacted us and offered to donate to save the property, and despite the fact that a sum greater than three million shekels was raised, the brothers (from Jerusalem and from Boston, US) from the Golashvili family signed an agreement with Arabs," King announced.

He continued, "unfortunately greedy Jewish lawyers helped conducting this awful crime."

"The Golashvili family being discussed were money-hungry," said King, adding "I can attest that most Golashvili family members are not like this! The opposite - many others tried to help the Israel Land Fund to save the property from falling into Arab hands."

Despite those efforts, the brothers involved "asked an exaggerated price, roughly 35% more than the property's value according to assessments that they ordered and according to the real estate market in that region."

"As said, we in the Israel Land Fund view the sale of the property to an Arab as our failure," King conceded.

Speaking about the historical importance of the site, he said "around 80 to 90 years ago proud Georgian Jews lived in this property, several of them sacrificed themselves and were murdered there just for being Jews; this sale is doubtlessly also a failure of the Jewish people!"

Previously, King explained, "there was a synagogue there, and in 1927 seven Jews were murdered when they tried to defend themselves from Arab rioters."