Al-Quds' Church of Holy Sepulchre Closes Amid Row with Occupation Authorities

25 February, 2018, 15:24 | Author: Wade Massey
  • A general view of the interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the Palm Sunday Easter procession in Jerusalem's Old City

In a rare move, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been indefinitely closed in protest against what church leaders say is "discriminatory" Israeli policy aimed at weakening Christian presence in the holy city.

These moves were dubbed by the heads of churches as a "systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians".

Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian church leaders said the holy site, a popular stop for pilgrims and where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried, would remain closed until further notice.

The churches are also protesting Al-Quds municipality's new policy on municipal tax payments for church property. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities.

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The Jerusalem municipality says it continues to care for Christians needs and their full freedom of worship but "hotels, halls and businesses can not be exempt from municipal taxes simply because they are owned by the churches".

"Let me make it clear: we are not talking about houses of worship, who will still be exempt from property tax, according to law", he wrote. "We will no longer require Jerusalem's residents to bear the burden of these huge sums".

Separately, parliament is pursuing a bill that will appropriate lands in Israel sold by churches to anonymous buyers since 2010.

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