The various Christian factions at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre have united in the face of an “unprecedented level” of Israeli state abuse against Churches and Christians.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the place many Christians believe Jesus was buried. As such, it is also considered to be the holiest site in Christendom. The Church will be closed until further notice.
The joint statement signed by Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox leaders condemned plans by the Israeli government to begin imposing new taxes on church properties, as Al Jazeera reports.
The Israeli legislation would reportedly allow the expropriation of Church property sold to anonymous buyers. Deutsche Well explains that the city of Jerusalem is owed 650 million shekels ($186 million) in uncollected taxes. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stressed that the Holy Sepulchre and other churches were exempt from the taxes and that they would remain so. Barkat also claimed the changes applied only to establishments such as “hotels, halls and businesses” that were owned by the churches.
Christian leaders in Jerusalem, however, say the changes mean they will be unable to conduct their social and religious work, including the delivery of social services to those in need.
The press released by the issued by the united Christian communities at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stated: “These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations, which guarantee the rights and privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem.”