Christian Holy Site Shut Over Tax Dispute

02 March, 2018, 03:30 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
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The gates of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in occupied East Jerusalem were reopened on Wednesday at dawn after a three-day closure in protest of Israeli policies that church leaders said were aimed at weakening the Christian presence in Jerusalem.

"It's important to reopen the doors of the church, to let the people who sometimes come once in their life to visit this holy place", he said.

Earlier in February, some political commentators suggested that the threat to impose taxes on church property was a ploy by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to try to get more funding for his city from the Ministry of Finance.

Church leaders, in a joint statement, welcomed the dialogue.

"As a result, the Jerusalem Municipality is suspending the collection actions it has taken in recent weeks", it said.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said a professional team was being established to negotiate with church officials to "formulate a solution".

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A second proposed law would make it harder for church leaders to sell their land.

These sales actively pave the way for new waves of Israeli settlement in Jerusalem. Trudeau says the situation regarding Jerusalem's status should be resolved through negotiation.

It is believed by many Christians to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial and is a major pilgrimage site, drawing millions of tourists annually. There has also been a proposal in parliament that would allow the government to appropriate lands in Israel sold by churches to anonymous buyers since 2010.

Christians in Jerusalem are overwhelmingly Palestinians.

A key Palestinian religious leader is warning that there will be war if the United States follows through on its announced plan to open an embassy in Jerusalem, which Washington now formally recognizes as Israel's capital. The Times of Israel has reported that the city has a low-tax revenue because a large percentage of residents do not work, including ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

Erekat noted that the president spoke about the importance of Jerusalem to the three religions and praised the Jordanian guardianship over the holy sites, especially in Jerusalem. He also condemned what he said were the false accusations of a systematic campaign of abuse against churches and Christians.


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