TEL AVIV, Israel, March 5 (UPI) -- Israel's High Court of Justice has rejected an appeal to deny recognition of Eirinaios I as the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Palestine and Syria.
Petitioners alleged Eirinaios stole church funds, made anti-Semitic statements and supported the Palestinians.
The church owns large tracts in key locations in Jerusalem and critics feared it would use its economic power against Israel.
Centuries-old traditions dictate a new patriarch requires the rulers' consent to operate. Eirinaios was elected in 2001, the government recognized his election this year, and the appeal was designed to deny it and order further police investigations.
Justice Dorit Beinisch noted Friday police found no basis for claims of criminal activity, and the witnesses who spoke up seemed unreliable.
The government acted reasonably in trying to respect the Greek Orthodox community's autonomy and not interfere in its election, she concluded.