Shortly after the hostilities ended, the municipality of Jerusalem, with the support of the Government of Israel, started the repairs of those churches damaged in the fighting of 1948 and 1967. In September 1968, the Government authorized payments for the purpose. Details of the Government's statement follow.
The Government of Israel has reached amicable accord with fourteen Churches and Religious Orders concerning the payment of compensation for war damage sustained by some 31 church properties in both East and West Jerusalem. The payments are being made by the Government of Israel ex gratia and without regard to the military forces by whom the damage was caused. In some cases compensation will also cover injuries suffered during the 1948 War of Independence.
The payments are earmarked for the repair and renewal of the damaged churches and amount to some IL 7 million.
The agreements were signed on behalf of the State of Israel by Mr. Ya'acov Shimshon Shapiro, Minister of Justice and Chairman of a special Cabinet Committee, appointed to consider the churches' claims. The applications for compensation were examined and the negotiations conducted by an inter-departmental committee presided over by Mr. Zvi Terlo, Senior Counsel to the Minister of Justice.
At a ceremony held on 11 September 1968 at the Ministry of Justice, agreements were concluded with the representatives of seven churches and religious orders and the compensation cheques handed over.
Particulars of the 14 agreements are set out below -
1. The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
This agreement was signed on 17 May 1968 with His Beatitude Elisha II, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and relates to the Church and Monastery of St. Saviour, the House of Caiaphas and the Armenian Monastery and cemetery on Mount Zion.
2. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
This agreement was signed on 17 May 1968 with His Beatitude Benedictos I, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and relates to the following properties
The Patriarch's residence at A Tor;
The Greek Orthodox Cemetery on Mount Zion;
Monastery on Mount Zion;
Mar Elias Monastery on the road to Bethlehem;
Secular properties belonging to the Patriarchate - including commercial properties adjacent to the Old City Wall between Jaffa Gate and New Gate, formerly situated in no-man's land.
3. The Custody of Terra Sancta (Franciscan Order)
This agreement was signed on 21 May 1968 with Father Isias Andres, the Procurator-General of the Custody of Terra Sancta, and relates to the following properties:
Three Franciscan cemeteries on Mount Zion;
Monastery at Gethsemane;
Church of Dominus Flavit;
Monastery of San Francisco, near the Coenaculum on Mount Zion;
Monastery of San Salvatore;
Building on Mount Zion previously occupied by the Sisters of Negrizia;
The Franciscan School, near the New Gate.
4. Arch-Episcopal See of Cologne (Dormition)
This agreement was signed on 28 June 1968 with Prior Benedict Stolz and relates to the Church and Monastery of the Dormition and other buildings on Mount Zion.
5. The Order of Religious Assumptionists (Notre Dame de France)
This agreement was signed on 28 June 1968 with Father Antoine Tournellec, Superior of Notre Dame de France in Jerusalem, and relates to the Church, Monastery and Hostel of Notre Dame.
6. The Order of the Sisters of Marie Reparatrice
This agreement was signed on 28 June 1968 with the Order's Agent in Israel, Advocate Johannes Merguerian, and relates to the former Church and Convent of Marie Reparatrice.
7. Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Vicariate of Jerusalem
This agreement was signed on 29 July 1968 with Monseigneur Jacques Naoum, Patriarchal Vicar-General, and relates to property which formerly comprised a chapel and the Vicar's residence in Jerusalem.
8. Maison d'Abraham - (Catholic Relief and Welfare Institution)
This agreement was signed on 10 September 1968 with Abbe Joseph Gelin, Director of the Institute in Jerusalem, and relates to the Institute's property situated in the Old City near St. Stephen's Gate (Lion's Gate).
9. College des Freres des Ecoles Chretiennes
This agreement was signed on 11 September 1968 with Brother Felix Amedy, Director of the De La Salle School in Jerusalem, and relates to the school premises situated in the Old City near the New Gate.
10. Schmidt's Girls' College
This agreement was signed on 11 September 1968 by Gerhada Walberger, Mother Superior of the College, and relates to the college premises situated opposite the Damascus Gate.
11. The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission (White Russian)
This agreement was signed on 11 September 1968 by Father Serge Tchertkoff, Administrator of the Mission, and relates to the Mount of Olives Russian Convent.
12. The Chaldean Patriarchal Vicariate
This agreement was signed on 11 September 1968 by Monsignor Boutrus Shaya, Chaldean-Catholic Patriarchal Vicar, and relates to the Vicariate's premises at Nablus Road, Jerusalem.
13. Les Soeurs Franciscaines de Marie
This agreement was signed on 11 September 1968 with Mother Geneviéve Lecomte, Superior of the Order's Convent in Jerusalem, and relates to the convent premises situated near the Damascus Gate.
14. Order of Religious Assumptionists (St. Pierre en Gallicante)
This agreement was signed on 11 September 1968 with Father Joseph Berkers, Superior of St. Pierre en Gallicante, and relates to the Church and Monastery of St. Pierre en Gallicante and the Silver Towers Hotel.
Here are the statements made by two Church dignitaries on that occasion (in the original French):
a. Monsieur Le Ministre, Monsieur Le Maire,
Permettez-moi de vous remercier, et en vous personnes le Gouvernement d'Israël qui a bien voulu nous indemnisés pour les dommages que nous avons subis pendant cette dernière guerre, dommages dont la responsabilité incombe aussi et surtout à d'autres pays qui malheureusement ne sont pas présents pour partager cette responsabilite.
(Msgr. Boutrus Shaya, Chaldean-Catholic
Patriarchal Vicar, Jerusalem)
b. Excellence, Monsieur Le Maire et tous présents,
Au nom des communautés chrétiennes ici présentes je veux vous remercier et en vous aussi le Gouvernement d'Israël, de nous avoir remis un montant d'argent en vue de réparer les dommages pour les degats de la guerre.
J'espère que notre présence séculaire ou plus que séculaire à Jérusalem soit une garantie que nous voulons employer ces sommes vraiment pour Jérusalem, la ville qui est sainte à vous, la ville qui est sainte à nous et la ville qui est sainte à tout le monde.
Je prie pour l'union, je prie pour vous, je prie pour les habitants des Jérusalem. Nous essayerons de vraiment accomplir la tâche que nous avons dans cette Jérusalem terrestre pour amener toute l'humanité à Jérusalem céleste.
(-) Père Joseph Berkers,
Supérieur de St. Pierre en Gallicante,