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Christian Leaders Accuse Israeli Officials Of ‘Coordinated Attack’ For Seeking Tax Payment

Leaders of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the church issued a statement on Tuesday reiterating their opposition to the decision of the city of Jerusalem to impose a tax on church property.

Leaders of the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox churches described the city's decision to take legal action to impose the tax as a “coordinated attack on the Christian presence in the Holy Land” and a unilateral change to the sacred status quo, the Associated Press reported. reportThe media quoted the church as saying the legal proceedings underscore growing intolerance towards Jerusalem's Christian minority.

Israeli authorities claim it's a common financial dispute, according to the Associated Press. The church is a large landowner in Israel and has traditionally not paid property taxes, the agency said. City officials told the agency that the church had not submitted the necessary paperwork for exemption in past years and said they had begun a dialogue with the church about the debt. (Related article: Iran warns of “war of annihilation” if Israel launches all-out attack against Hezbollah)

Jerusalem authorities announced plans in 2018 to collect the tax debt the church owes to the city, The Jerusalem Post reported. reportThe tax only applies to land owned by the church but not used as a place of worship, the media reported. Church leaders previously closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in protest at the decision, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt efforts to collect the tax and set up a committee to resolve the dispute, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Head of the Latin Patriarchate and Church of Jerusalem Confirmed The church announced the ongoing dialogue in a press release on Tuesday. The church said its dialogue with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon was “[i]They created a “positive atmosphere,” opposed the tax, and “reiterated” their “concerns” about the legal action taken by the city.

“The heads of the Church await His Excellency the Prime Minister's response to their letter on the matter. In the meantime, we hope that His Excellency the Mayor and his positive reception today will help to move the dialogue mechanism forward towards a positive outcome for all parties involved,” the press release read.

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