The Christian churches in the Holy Land today accused Israel of "cynicism" for taking a government vote this Sunday, on the eve of Christmas, a bill that would retroactively expropriate properties that they leased.
"On Sunday, when the whole Christian world is about to celebrate Christmas, the State of Israel has decided, cynically and deliberately, to present an offensive and racist bill that specifically discriminates against Christians in Israel," they said in a statement. .
The representatives of the main Christian churches – Gothic Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic – in addition to the Maronite Archbishop, Coptic and others, will hold an emergency meeting this Sunday morning at the Notre Dame center, near the Old City of Jerusalem.
The disagreements between the Israeli authorities and the churches are this bill, which allows the expropriation of lands sold and leased to companies and civilians, and the property tax that has historically been exempt, most of them located in Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.
In October, the Christian representatives asked the Israeli Executive for the withdrawal of this legislative project, which they consider "a confiscation", after the February crisis against the imposition of municipal taxes, which led to an unprecedented closure of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem as an act of protest.
The Christian churches insist that the Government of Israel undertook to suspend all legislative procedures during the negotiations, led by the head of Israel's Regional Cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi, on the Israeli fiscal and legislative policies that affect them.
"This goes against the explicit promise of the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) to preserve the 'status quo' that has existed for decades between the Church, the State and its institutions," they said today.
"There is no way to explain such a closed and cynical step that promotes a racist law precisely when hundreds of millions of Christian believers fill their souls with feelings of faith, hope, reconciliation and fraternity among all religions," they added.