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Churches Protest Municipal Taxes in Jerusalem

Municipality Says Taxes Will Apply Only to Church Owned Businesses

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Posted on: 
16 Feb 2018
Churches Protest Municipal Taxes in Jerusalem
13 leaders of traditional churches in Israel have issued a joint statement denouncing a recent decision by the Jerusalem Municipality to begin collecting taxes on church properties. A letter sent to the Municipality by the leaders and also shown to the media declares that the plan violates a centuries old status quo agreement whereby churches were exempt from such taxes because of all the social capital they produced in the city and throughout Israel.

“Following the statement by the Municipality of Jerusalem declaring that the churches in Jerusalem should pay municipal taxes... We, the heads of churches in Jerusalem, declare that such a statement is contrary to the historic position between the churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and the civil authorities across the centuries,” the letter reads. “The civil authorities have always recognized and respected the great contribution of the Christian churches, which invest billions in building schools, hospitals, and homes, many for the elderly and disadvantaged, in the Holy Land.”

“We declare that such a measure both undermines the sacred character of Jerusalem, and jeopardizes the Church’s ability to conduct its ministry in this land on behalf of its communities and the world-wide Church,” they said. “We request the municipality to retract their statement and ensure that the status quo which was sanctioned by the sacred history is maintained, and the character of the Holy City of Jerusalem is not violated. We stand firm and united in our position to defend our presence and properties.”

“The Jerusalem Municipality has excellent and respectful connections with every church in the city, and it will continue protecting their freedom of religion,” the municipality told the Jerusalem Post in response to an inquiry about the matter. “However, it cannot accept the situation in which hotels and businesses are exempt from paying property tax only because the property is owned by a church.”

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