Holiest church in Christianity closed in Israel tax dispute

JERUSALEM- Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Christian leaders took an unusual step to close their doors, against Israeli tax measures and a proposed property laws.

No announcement has been made on when the church doors will reopen.

The church is considered as the holiest site in Christianity, where Christians believed Jesus was crucified, and is a major pilgrimage site.

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Catholic leaders said in a statement that was read out in front of the church’s large wooden door, “As a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,”

They said the announced Israeli measurements were, “an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem”.

The Palestine Authority also disagreed on the possible taxation and control of what land goes to who, all decided by the Israeli government , as a move, “new aggression against the city of Jerusalem”, it said.

Israeli media is reporting that the foreign ministry has criticized the move to tax churches, officials have said the move is detrimental to decades long standarding.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that the city was due 650 million shekels ($186 million, 152 million euros) in uncollected taxes on church properties, Barkat said in a statement. However Barkat has emphasized that he Church of the Holy Sepulchre and all other churches were will not pay taxes and be exempted, the only paying buildings will be,”hotels, halls and businesses” that are owned by churches.

Photo Credit- commons.wikimedia.org

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