Iconic Jerusalem church reopens after closing to protest tax plan

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Leaders also expressed their disapproval of plans by the Israeli government to begin imposing taxes on church properties.

The closure - which seemed to be the longest since at least 1990 - had left thousands of pilgrims and tourists seeking to visit locked outside.

A second proposed law would make it harder for church leaders to sell their land.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of the Holy Land Theophilos III, second right, stands outside the closed doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed by many Christians to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem on Sunday. Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, flanked by the Catholic Church Custos of the Holy Land Francesco Patton and Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian, made a statement to journalists in front of the church's large wooden doors.

Rachel Azaria, the former deputy mayor of Jerusalem who sponsored the legislation, said the committee wanted to "work with the churches" to resolve the dispute.

Israeli politicians are also threatening to confiscate the land before it falls "into the hands of private developers", according to Haaretz.

Two days later Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, stepped in.

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Klein said the US should first insist that the Palestinian Authority "rescind its law to pay Arabs to murder Jews, end incitement in the media, schools and sermons, accept Israel as a Jewish state and proclaim that Jews have a right to live in Judea and Samaria [the biblical name for the West Bank]".

He stresses churches themselves are exempt, with the changes only affecting establishments like "hotels, halls and businesses" owned by them.

These sales actively pave the way for new waves of Israeli settlement in Jerusalem. The action was done as a mark of protest against the new tax policy initiated by the Israelis. The Churches looked forward to working with "all those who love Jerusalem, to ensure that Our Holy City, where our Christian presence continues to face challenges, remains a place where the three Monotheistic faiths may live and thrive together".

"I am happy now and I will pray for my children, my family and my country".

But the churches' ability to freely sell land is not necessarily in the interests of the Christian community or Palestinians more generally.

In a statement, Netanyahu said a "professional team" would be appointed to come up with a solution to the tax measures which sparked the protest. Nuseibeh closed and locked the doors February 25 after heads of Christian churches in the Holy Land announced they were closing of the doors of the church for an undisclosed period of time.

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