Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian church leaders have closed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial) in Jerusalem in protest of two legal moves by Israeli government officials. YNet News today describes the disputed actions:As part of a battle with Finance Ministry over budgets to the capital, the Jerusalem Municipality informed the Finance, Interior and Foreign ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office that it had started collecting property tax debts of more than NIS 650 million from some 887 properties across the city which belong to churches and United Nations institutions.Municipality officials said these properties did not include houses of worship, which are exempt from paying property taxes by law, but rather properties used for non-prayer activities, including commercial activities.Churches are exempt from paying property taxes as part of an agreement with the state, but the Jerusalem Municipality says it is not being compensated by the state for the money it is losing by not collecting these taxes.Later on Sunday, an Israeli cabinet committee is due to consider a bill that would allow the state to expropriate land in Jerusalem sold by churches to private real estate firms in recent years.The stated aim of the bill is to protect homeowners against the possibility that private companies will not extend their leases. The churches, major landowners in the city, say such a law would make it harder for them to find buyers for their land.A statement from church leaders calls the moves a
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