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Christian Leaders Accuse Israel of Targeting Community with New Tax Actions

Christian Leaders Accuse Israel of Targeting Community with New Tax Actions
Christian Leaders Accuse Israel of Targeting Community with New Tax Actions

Leaders of major Christian churches say Israeli authorities are targeting the Christian community in the Holy Land by starting new tax processes against them. They believe this disrupts long-standing traditions and shows increasing intolerance toward Christians. Israeli officials, on the other hand, claim it’s just a normal financial issue.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the heads of the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox churches claimed that four municipalities across Israel had recently issued warning letters to church officials, threatening legal action if taxes were not paid.

The church leaders see this as a deliberate effort to diminish the Christian presence in the Holy Land. They expressed their concerns about the global implications of these actions, especially for the Christian community.

Christians make up less than 2% of the population in Israel and the Palestinian territories, with 182,000 in Israel, 50,000 in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and 1,300 in Gaza.

Christian Leaders Accuse Israel of Targeting Community with New Tax Actions

Christian Leaders Accuse Israel of Targeting Community with New Tax Actions

The majority of these Christians are Palestinians. Traditionally, churches in the Holy Land, which are significant landowners, do not pay property taxes, as their funds are used for services benefiting the state, such as schools, hospitals, and homes for the elderly.

The letter mentioned that the municipalities of Tel Aviv, Ramla, Nazareth, and Jerusalem have all recently issued warning letters or initiated legal action for alleged tax debts.

The Jerusalem municipality stated that the church had not submitted the required requests for tax exemptions in recent years, adding that dialogue was ongoing to collect debts for commercial properties owned by the churches. The other municipalities did not comment, leaving it unclear if their actions were coordinated or coincidental.

This situation echoes a similar incident in 2018 when Christians closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in protest against Israeli officials’ attempts to impose taxes on commercial properties.

The Christian leaders argued that such taxes would harm religious observance and infringe on the cultural and religious significance of these sites. Following public backlash, Netanyahu quickly suspended the tax plan, highlighting the sensitivity and potential impact of such measures on the Christian community in the Holy Land.

 

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