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Jordan ‘following closely’ on Jerusalem churches case after tax suspension

By Agencies - Feb 27,2018 - Last updated at Feb 27,2018

Worshippers hold a cross during a protest in front of the closed doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday (Reuters photo)

AMMAN — The government is closely following up on the Israeli government's decision to suspend the “rejected and condemned” procedures taken recently to impose taxes on property of churches in Jerusalem, Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani said on Tuesday.  

Momani, who is also the government spokesperson, added that Jordan would follow up on actions of the taskforce that Israel has formed to work out solutions to the issue, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

He added that the Kingdom, which is the custodian of holy places in the occupied city, had made contacts to deal with “this serious issue” and defend Jerusalem churches against illegal Israeli practices. 

The minister reiterated that East Jerusalem is part of the occupied territories in 1967, and that only the international law and the international humanitarian law apply to the city’s situation as an occupied land.

In this regard, he called on Israel, as an occupying force, to commit to its responsibilities, at the top of which is to preserve the historic and legal status of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Momani reiterated the historic, religious and cultural importance of the Christian presence in the holy city, where they have always been an indigenous component of it, Petra added.

The Israeli occupation authorities on Tuesday suspended a tax plan and proposed property legislation that had prompted the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, to be closed in protest since Sunday.

After receiving a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian clergy were considering next steps, including reopening the church, Wadie Abunassar, an adviser to church leaders said, as quoted by Reuters. 

An Israeli committee led by a Cabinet minister will negotiate with church representatives to try to resolve the dispute over plans to tax church-owned commercial property in Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s office said.

Church leaders, in closing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, said church-owned businesses, which include a hotel and office space in Jerusalem, had enjoyed a tax exemption.

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