JAI: Defend the Christian Presence and Properties in Jerusalem
On Thursday February 15, 2018 the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem denounced the Jerusalem Municipality decision to tax them on their properties saying this ruling violates the status quo they have had for centuries, “We, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, declare that such a statement is contrary to the historic position between the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and the civil authorities across the centuries. The civil authorities have always recognized and respected the great contribution of the Christian Churches, which invest billions in building schools, hospitals, and homes, many for the elderly and disadvantaged, in the Holy Land.” This decision will affect all the people who benefit from the churches institution including the staff. In addition, this decision will force many Christians to leave.
Furthermore, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches said they “declare that such a measure both undermines the sacred character of Jerusalem, and jeopardizes the Church’s ability to conduct its ministry in this land on behalf of its communities and the world-wide church.” They called on the Municipality “to retract their statement and ensure that the status quo which was sanctioned by the sacred history is maintained, and the character of the Holy City of Jerusalem is not violated.”
650 million dollars in taxes are said to be owed the city. The accounts of the Catholic, Armenian, and Greek Orthodox churches have already been frozen or foreclosed. Furthermore to the taxation of the church, Christian organizations are also suffering and have already had to sell land to pay back for these taxes. Many feel this sudden change in the status quo is due to Trump’s announcement on December 6th to claim Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Others see this recent action as part of the ongoing Judaization of Jerusalem.
The Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YWCA of Palestine and the East Jerusalem YMCA asks our partners and friends to denounce the Jerusalem Municipality’s decision and join the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem in demanding that they retract their statement and ensure that the status quo is maintained so that the Christian character of the Holy City is not violated. Please contact your political representatives to put pressure on the State of Israel and the Municipality of Jerusalem to uphold their commitments to keeping Jerusalem a shared city for all.