World, Middle East

Pan-Muslim body slams Israel plan to tax J'lem churches

Organization of Islamic Cooperation decries Israeli plan to tax church property in East Jerusalem

27.02.2018
Pan-Muslim body slams Israel plan to tax J'lem churches file photo ( Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency )

By Alaa Abu al-Einein

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Tuesday blasted an Israeli plan to start taxing church property in occupied East Jerusalem.

“We reject these measures, which are part of ongoing efforts [by Israel] to change the status of Christian and Muslim holy places [in Jerusalem] and systematically restrict their existence,” the OIC said in a statement.

It went on to voice solidarity with Jerusalem’s churches, warning against “the seriousness of these unprecedented Israeli actions which constitute a flagrant violation of international law and conventions”.

The OIC also urged the international community to “exert pressure on Israel, the occupying power, to compel it to abide by its responsibilities under international law and the Geneva Conventions and immediately reverse these illegal measures and continued violations against the city of Jerusalem, its people and holy sites”.

On Sunday, Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher closed its doors to protest Israel’s new tax policy, which, if implemented, would subject the city’s churches to a property tax.

“The church will remain closed until further notice,” Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III told reporters.

Jointly administered by several major Christian denominations, Jerusalem’s iconic Church of the Holy Sepulcher is considered one of Christianity’s holiest sites.

Roughly 300,000 Palestinians live in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, between 10,000 and 12,000 of whom are Christians.

Jerusalem has remained in the media spotlight since early December, when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized it as Israel’s capital, drawing condemnation and protest from across the Arab and Muslim world.

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