This article was originally published on February 27, at Christianity Today.
Israel suspended a controversial tax plan and property legislation today in response to the unprecedented Christian decision on Sunday to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat agreed to form a government committee to “formulate a solution” and negotiate with church officials.
In response, the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian clergy will reopen the church on Wednesday, reports the Associated Press.
Barkat had stated that Jerusalem’s churches owed more than $180 million in taxes on church-owned commercial properties, and the municipality had frozen church accounts.
Meanwhile, legislation advancing in the Knesset had threatened to complicate the churches’ ability to sell their properties.
Now suspended, these actions were contrary to the historic agreement between churches and the various civil authorities which ruled Jerusalem, said Bishop Sani Azar.
His Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land closed its Church of the Redeemer for one day in solidarity, pending consultations with sister churches in Jerusalem.
“All the churches are united, so this shows something is very wrong,” said Salim Munayer, head of the Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Jerusalem.
“It is an unbelievable step, though Christians in the West have a hard time understanding.”
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