By Arthur Hagopian
JERUSALEM — The heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem have expressed grave concern over renewed moves by the Israeli authorities to tax church buildings and properties.
While previous such moves have ended in failure, the Israelis have not tried hard to mask their intention to persist in their efforts to impose an “arnona” (property tax) on properties owned by the various churches, including those which have been vacant for some time.
In a statement issued here this week, a loose conglomeration of the 13 Christian churches officially recognized by Israel, calling itself the “Heads of the Churches of the Holy City of Jerusalem,” warned of dire consequences that would ensue should Israel carry out its plans.
“Such imposition would constitute a radical departure from the consistent practice of every previous state to have governed any part of the Holy Land, including the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate, the Hashemite Kingdom and the State of Israel itself,” the church leaders said.
“It would represent a significant worsening of the conditions of the churches in the Holy Land. It would also be in direct contradiction of the mandate of the United Nations Organization in General Assembly resolution 181, of November 29, 1947, as it applied not only to Jerusalem but also to the two national states that it authorizes to be established in the Holy Land,” they warned.