Famous Jerusalem church shut over tax protest

  • Famous Jerusalem church shut over tax protest

Famous Jerusalem church shut over tax protest

The statement compared the decisions to "the laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe".

"This systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land severely violates the most basic, ab antique and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian Community and the authorities for decades", the statement continued.

He pointed out that these steps clearly target the historical Christian presence in Jerusalem, which is an essential part of the Holy City's history and its historical, human, religious and civilizational heritage, and embodies the values of interfaith coexistence in its fullest form.

Outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, pilgrims voiced their disappointment at finding its doors shut.

The stated aim of the bill is to protect homeowners against the possibility that private companies will not extend their leases of land on which their houses or apartments stand.

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat said the city was due 650 million shekels (Dh684.5m) in uncollected taxes on church properties, which he said was "illegal and irrational".

The heads churches - Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Custos Francesco Patton and Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian - released a letter attacking the legislation and the recent move by the city, labeling it as "a systematic attack on the Christian minority in the Holy Land".

Barkat stressed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and all other churches were exempt from the taxes and would remain so, with the changes only affecting establishments like "hotels, halls and businesses" owned by the churches.

Jordan on Sunday condemned the recent Israeli measures against Jerusalem's churches and their properties, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

East Jerusalem has drawn world attention since U.S. President Donald Trump on December 6 officially recognized the holy city as the capital of Israel, triggering world outcry and protests across the Palestinian territories. Cabinet ministers were scheduled on Sunday to discuss the bill, but postponed it for a week because of the uproar, her office said.

The cave where Christians believe Jesus was buried is located within the church, while the traditional site of his crucifixion is a short walk away, also inside the church.

A 19th-century shrine surrounds the tomb with an onion-shaped dome above.

It is highly unusual for the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic denominations, who all share custody of the church, to agree to a stance as dramatic as closing the whole site and tensions between denominations often run high over control of its various chapels and compartments.