Church of Sepulchre reopens as Israel halts tax move

PNN/ Jerusalem/

Church of Sepulchre will reopen today as Israeli Prime Minister and Mayor of West Jerusalem Israeli municipality, Nir Barkat, said they will “formulate a solution, announcing suspension of the collection actions it has taken in recent weeks.

In response, the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian clergy will reopen the church on Wednesday, reports the Associated Press.

Barkat had stated that Jerusalem’s churches owed more than $180 million in taxes on church-owned commercial properties, and the municipality had frozen church accounts.

Meanwhile, legislation advancing in the Knesset had threatened to complicate the churches’ ability to sell their properties.

Now suspended, these actions were contrary to the historic agreement between churches and the various civil authorities which ruled Jerusalem, said Bishop Sani Azar.

The Church closed its doors on Sunday  when a ministerial panel was set to discuss a bill that would allowing the state to expropriate land in Jerusalem sold by the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches since 2010.

In a statement, the heads of churches condemned the “discriminatory” bill, saying that this systematic offensive campaign has reached an unprecedented level where Israel aims to seize church assets, properties and Bank accounts, which breach existing agreements that guarantee the rights of churches.