Conference of Presidents Leaders Welcome Israeli Government Decision to Suspend Collection of Taxes on Certain Church Owned Property in Jerusalem and Establish High Level Commissions to Resolve Differences

New York, NY . . .  Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations  today welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, suspending further action to collect municipal taxes on certain types of property owned by Christian churches in Jerusalem and establishing several high level commissions, headed by the Minister for Regional Cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi, to devise solutions for the issues and negotiate with church representatives to resolve the differences.

Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Hoenlein said, “The decisions announced today to suspend tax collection efforts by the Jerusalem Municipality and set up high level Commissions headed by Minister Hanegbi to solve the complex issues of taxation of certain church owned property, acknowledges the deep concerns expressed by Christian leaders, and Israel’s commitment to religious freedom and equality.  The response from the Government demonstrates that Israel takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard all religious sites and shows its respect for the Christian population in Jerusalem, throughout the country, and around the world. 

As Prime Minister Netanyahu noted, “Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians and believers of all faiths have full freedom of religion and worship.  Israel is home to a flourishing Christian community and welcomes its Christian friends from all over the world.”

We are confident that a mutually acceptable outcome will be achieved through engagement and negotiation between Israel and the various Church leaders.

Together with our Greek American counterparts, we have worked to bring these matters to an amicable resolution.  Relations with the Greek Orthodox Church in Israel are friendly, vibrant and cooperative and will continue to be so."

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