The Holy Sepulcher reopens, after standoff over taxes
Netanyahu makes a u-turn and freezes the controversial bill. Christian leaders: We thank God, the Churches will continue to work to protect the Christian presence, still threatened by many difficulties.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The doors of the Holy Sepulcher were reopened at 4.00 am today, after three days of closure. The protest of Christian leaders was interrupted last night, after the u-turn by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who announced in a statement the freezing of the measures criticized by the Churches of Jerusalem.
On 25 February, the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Teofilo III and the Custodian of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton had decided to close the sanctuary in protest against a draft law on the expropriation of land belonging to the Churches and against the mayor's request to pay years of municipal rates, in contravention of the status quo agreements - accepted at the time by Israel - which exempt religious communities from taxes.
In the communiqué announcing the reopening, the Christian leaders affirm: "We give thanks to God for the statement released earlier today by Prime Minister Netanyahu and offer our gratitude to all those who have worked tirelessly to uphold the Christian presence in Jerusalem and to defend the Status Quo".
Now, "look forward to engaging with Minister Hanegbi [of the Tzachi Regional Cooperation], and with all those who love Jerusalem to ensure that Our Holy City, where our Christian presence continues to face challenges, remains a place where the three Monotheistic faiths may live and thrive together".
Photo by Christian Media Center.