Jerusalem, March 16 –The heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem express grave concern over new moves by the Israeli authorities to impose municipal property tax (Arnona) on Church buildings and properties. Such imposition would constitute a radical departure from the consistent practice of every previous State to have governed any part of the Holy Land, including the Ottoman empire , the British Mandate, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel itself.It would represent a significant worsening of the condition of the Churches in the Holy Land . It would also be in direct contradiction to the mandate of the United Nations Organization in General Assembly Resolution 181, of 29 November, 1947, as it applies not only to Jerusalem but also to the two national states that it authorizes to be established in the Holy Land . Moreover, such novel imposition of taxation on Church properties would contradict the solemn promises given to the Churches by successive Israeli governments, most notably confirmed in the wake of the June 1967 war.The Heads of Churches cannot understand how it could be in the interest of the State to take such aggressive action with regard to the Churches, especially at this time, and are urging instead that the official relations remain on a correct and friendly basis. They express confident hope that such will indeed turn out to be the continuing choice of the government of Israel .The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem include the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, the Latin Patriarch, the Armenian Patriarch, the Custos of the Holy Land and the Archbishops and Bishops of the Armenian Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox , Greek Catholic, Maronite, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches.Any person of good will must understand that the abrupt imposition of unprecedented new taxation on the Christian Churches could only come at the expense of their ability to maintain their presence in the Holy Land and to continue their ministries of pastoral care, education, welfare and health.
HOLY LAND CHURCHES PROTEST AGAINST ISRAELI TAX MOVE
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