As many of you already know, last week the major Christian groups within the Holy Sepulchre and the Patriarch of Jerusalem decided to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a protest against the punitive taxes and confiscatory collection process being imposed by Israel through the municipality of Jerusalem. Closing the Church is a great burden for Christians but it is certain to bring the issue to a head and force a resolution. Here is an article in the Jerusalem Post.
HERE is a very good article reporting the comments of Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
It looks like this drastic action is paying off. Just released is a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His statement says they are proud of the religious freedom for everyone in Israel. This is true, but this taxation of the Churches is a blight on that freedom. Hopefully, they resolve it soon if favor of the Christians in the Holy Land.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat have agreed to establish a professional team led by Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, with the participation of all relevant parties, to formulate a solution for the issue of municipal taxes on properties owned by churches that are not houses of worship.
“As part of the discussion between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jerusalem Municipality regarding churches’ municipal taxes, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Barkat have agreed that a professional team led by Minister Hanegbi, including representatives of the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and the Interior and the Jerusalem Municipality, will formulate a solution to the issue of municipal taxes (which do not apply to houses of worship). The team will negotiate with the representatives of the churches to resolve the issue.
“As a result, the Jerusalem Municipality is suspending the collection actions it has taken in recent weeks.
“In addition, following a request by the heads of the churches to enter negotiations regarding the sale of land in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked Minister Hanegbi to examine the issue. While the Minister is doing so, all legislative activity on the matter will be suspended.
“Israel is proud to be the only country in the Middle East where Christians and believers of all faiths have full freedom of religion and worship. Israel is home to a flourishing Christian community and welcomes its Christian friends from all over the world.”