Did you know we’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary as the 1st American News Agency exclusively covering the Middle East?

  • The Middle East landscape is changing rapidly.
  • The roads in the region open to new possibilities.
  • The Media Line continues to pave the way to a far greater understanding of the region’s land, people, policies and governments through our trusted, fact-based news.

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Please make your gift today as we have a most generous matching 2:1 grant.
Thank you!

We paved the way to be the Trusted Mid East News you can rely on!

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

For those observing, may we wish you a healthy, safe, and sweet 5781.

After Israeli Authorities Backtrack, Church Of The Holy Sepulchre Reopens
Christians are locked out of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which was shuttered amid a tax disagreement with the Jerusalem Municipality.

After Israeli Authorities Backtrack, Church Of The Holy Sepulchre Reopens

 

Amid tax feud with municipality, Christian holy site had been closed since Sunday, locking out thousands out of tourists and pilgrims

The grand wooden doors of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopened Wednesday after a three-day closure in protest of a municipal and federal plan to collect back-taxes on church-owned properties.

It comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced Tuesday evening the establishment of a negotiating team, led by Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, to resolve the dispute that pitted churches against state.

“The team will negotiate with the representatives of the churches to resolve the issue,” a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office read. “As a result, the Jerusalem Municipality is suspending the collection actions it has taken in recent weeks.”

In this respect, Jerusalem officials had planned to collect about $185 million in back-taxes on 887 commercial properties owned by churches that do not have houses of worship.

Mayor Barkat argued in a series of tweets earlier this week that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, like all of Jerusalem’s churches, synagogues and mosques is exempt from paying municipal taxes and that would remain unchanged.

Still, the heads of the three churches that jointly run the Holy Sepulchre—the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Patriarch and Roman Catholic—took the dramatic step of closing the holy site, shutting out thousands of people, many of whom visited Israel specifically to see the place where Christians believe Jesus was resurrected.

Pedro and Ana Cirdoso, a Portuguese couple interviewed by The Media Line on Tuesday, said they would revisit the site Wednesday morning, hoping it would reopen before their flight home in the afternoon.

Others interviewed by The Media Line, including Ben Smith, a tourist from North Carolina, expressed disappointment that they had missed their only chance to tour the church.

“It was the trip of a lifetime. Maybe next time,” Smith said Tuesday.

After the Holy Sepulchre was shuttered, various religious officials showed solidarity with Christian leaders. Sheikh Wasef al-Bakri, acting supreme judge in the Islamic Court of Jerusalem, visited the entrance to the church Tuesday and told The Media Line, “this is a place of prayer, not a place to make money.”

For her part, Ana Cirdoso believes political issues effectively turned the Church of the Holy Sepulchre into a hostage.

“Jesus wouldn’t do that,” she told The Media Line, her husband nodding in agreement. “All of us are here to see this holy place, so I think they should solve the problems in other ways.”

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.