Christians and Churches Safe in Israel

There is no war against Christians or Christian Churches in Israel.

Unlike in the nations of the region in the Mid East, in Israel there is religious freedom. In neighboring countries Christian communities are oppressed and in fact in Egypt and Syria churches are attacked and worshipers. Massacre’d.

However, for those who know the secret the church, or rather the churches have vast properties in Israel that are not churches! Many are apartments and commercial properties.

It is estimated that the Greek Orthodox Church is the second largest landowner in Israel. Even more surprising for those who were not aware is that the Greek Orthodox Church is landowner in Israel Second Only to the Israel Lands Authority.

In recent years the Greek Orhtodox Patriarchate, that’s who is in charge of the church in Israel, has made many Suspicious Land Deals, selling much property to “straw`companies, some located in tax havens, who have Paid Below Market Price. These properties are Apartments and Commercial properties (including stores).

Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem claims that the churches owe almost the equivalent of $200,000,000.00, (two hundred million USD) in taxes for properties not churches, rather residential apartments and commercial properties. He Tweeted that: “… we will no longer require Jerusalem’s residents to bear or subsidize this huge debt

Clearly everyone must pay City Tax – for residential and commercial properties.

This is where the matter gets complicated beyond the questionable deals are Real Residents of neighborhoods like Nayot in Jerusalem and acres of downtown Jaffa. Those RESIDENTS THOSE CITIZENS, BOTH ARABS and JEWS are entitled to own their apartments that they paid for. (Those properties are Only Leased to the resident owners and those Leases`Expire. Some in 20 years and somein 52 years. ) The consequence is that those people are negatively affected. They need to be protected by law.

For these reasons MK Rachel Azaria of the Kulanu party has introduced legislation to enable the state to confiscate land not used for religious prayer or study.

Now the way this actually may work out is that perhaps a compromise is likely. Perhaps the authorities would Forgive some of the Debt, in exchange for extensions of leases and more importantly, the Church paying taxes on its commercial and residential properties. The way to get to a compromise is to Legislate & Negotiate.

About the Author
An American born, Israeli, trained, licensed and practiced Trial Lawyer in NYC and Israel. Made Aliya 25 years ago after being an Ass't District Attorney and private Criminal Defense lawyer. Then Justice Ministry in Israel Criminal Law and Legislation and Knesset Commitee participation. Worked in the legal department of the Jerusalem Municipality for AG Eliakim Rubenstein and (PM) Olmert.
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