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Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens after three-day protest over taxes

One of the most revered sites in Christianity is again open to visitors following a tax dispute with the Israeli government.

A view of the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
A view of the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the most revered sites in Christianity, reopened in Jerusalem on Wednesday following a three-day closure to protest Israeli tax measures and a proposed new law.

The church, which dates back to at least the fourth century CE, is built on the location where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, interred and resurrected. It is administered by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations.

The decision to close the church was announced in protest of a Knesset bill that would limit the churches’ latitude to sell to private developers land they leased to homeowners, as well as a decision by the City of Jerusalem to freeze church assets until it paid back taxes.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that it would suspend tax collection from the site and postpone legislation regarding the sale of church land until a new committee headed by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi meets with church officials.

“After the constructive intervention of the Prime Minister, The Churches look forward to engage with Minister Hanegbi, 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,” the church leaders said in a statement.

“Israel is proud to be the only country in the Middle East where Christians and believers of all faiths have full freedom of religion and worship,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. “Israel is home to a flourishing Christian community and welcomes its Christian friends from all over the world.”

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