Christian Holy Site Shut Over Tax Dispute

Christian Holy Site Shut Over Tax Dispute

Christian Holy Site Shut Over Tax Dispute

"We're celebrating", Adeeb Joudeh, the custodian of the keys of the church, told Al Jazeera.

The Jerusalem Municipality wanted to tax churches€™ €œcommercial€ properties, saying that churches have uncollected tax debts of roughly ‚¬151m ($185m).

"This reminds us all of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during a dark period in Europe", Christian leaders said in a statement Sunday. Leaders of all three major denominations in the city: Armenian, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox, confirmed that the popular destination will remain inaccessible to both the faithful and the tourists in the unforeseeable future.

Theophilos III, Nourhan Manougian and Francesco Patton said in a statement: "As a measure of protest, we chose to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre".

One of the outspoken critics of Israel's proposed policies was the Greek Orthodox Church Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, who is accused of orchestrating the sale of more than 500 dunams (123.5 acres) of Palestinian land belonging to the Arab Orthodox Church in Jerusalem to Israeli entrepreneurs belonging to Zionist and settler groups.

He said that while the bank accounts of the Franciscans had not been affected, some of the accounts of other churches, such as the Anglicans and the Assyrians, were frozen in mid-February.

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They have been unable to wear national uniforms or have the Russian anthem played at medal ceremonies. At the bobsleigh track on Saturday, Russian competitors were tight-lipped.

In response, church leaders issued their own statement praising the Prime Minister's decision as a "constructive intervention", while pledging their willingness to work together with state officials to insure that Jerusalem remains "a place where the three Monotheistic faiths may live and thrive together".

An Israeli committee will negotiate with church representatives to resolve the plans to tax church-owned commercial property within Jerusalem, according to Netanyahu's office.

A general view of the entrance and the closed doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, February 25, 2018.

Christian leaders made a decision to reopen the church after Israel Tuesday suspended tax measures they oppose and shelved a proposed law that would allow the state to expropriate land sold by the church. They see the measure as political posturing, especially as the Knesset member who proposed the law is a potential candidate for mayor.

He said the measures could have been potentially more damaging for the smaller churches, such as the Ethiopian and Syriac churches, and some Catholic religious congregations would have had to close some of their institutions if the measures had been carried out. It closed last week after leaders issued a joint statement - bemoaning what they called a "systematic campaign of abuse" against them - likening it to anti-Jewish laws issued in Nazi Germany. All legislative activity regarding the sale of Churches' land was also suspended.

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