Christianity’s Holiest Site in Israel Reopens After Protest over Church Taxes

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopened in February 2018—three days after closing its doors to the public, reports The Jerusalem Post.

Revered as the site where Jesus was crucified and buried, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre denounced the local government’s campaign to tax properties owned by Christian churches.

Revered as the site where Jesus was crucified and buried, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre denounced the local government’s campaign to tax properties owned by Christian churches.

Leaders of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and other Christian denominations closed the renowned church on Sunday as a sign of protest.

Pilgrims around the world visit the ancient holy site and with the Easter holiday fast approaching, Israel was compelled to re-evaluate its tax plan.

To appease the angered religious leaders, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat announced the suspension of the tax collection.

Mayor Barkat disclosed that the churches owed Jerusalem over $180 million in property tax from their commercial holdings. He clarified that the plan to impose taxes only affect commercial properties and not houses of worship.

“We have no negative or bad intentions here,” the mayor added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a professional team led by cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi will negotiate with the church representatives to come up with a fair solution to all.

Church leaders issued a joint statement welcoming the initiative of a dialog.

“After the constructive intervention of the prime minister, the churches look forward to engaging with Minister Hanegbi and with all those who love Jerusalem…where our Christian presence continues to face challenges.”

Sources:
The Jerusalem Post
Independent.ie

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