Jerusalem Church Where Jesus Is Said to be Buried Closed After Tax Dispute With Israeli Government

Tom Porter

Christian leaders have closed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, said to be built on the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial, in a protest at Israeli tax policy which they say unfairly targets Christians.

In a rare move, leaders from the Greek, Armenian and Catholic denominations said they were indefinitely closing the church because of a “systematic campaign” by Israeli authorities.

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Christian Orthodox worshipers hold up candles lit from the 'Holy Fire' as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City, on April 11, 2015 during the Orthodox Easter ceremony of the 'Holy Fire'. Getty Images

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“As a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher,” the Christian leaders said in a joint statement.

The statement criticized a recent bill passed by the Israeli parliament that allowed the Israeli state to take over Christian buildings leased to private companies, and plans to begin imposing taxes on Christian church properties.

The move is the first time the 1,000-year-old church has been closed since 1990, when it was shut in protest at Israeli settlers taking over a Christian building.

The church has long been a major pilgrimage site for Christians from around the world, with the first church on the site built on the orders of Roman emperor Constantine I. 

This article was first written by Newsweek

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