(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
If Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not willing to pay property taxes owed to the city, then it should turn to the courts, said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Israeli News Broadcasting Corporation Kan radio Monday morning.
"The debt has accumulated over years. We have done what we would do to every other citizen," said Barkat.
"If they are not satisfied, the church is welcome to turn to the court. I'm surprised they haven't done so," he added.
Jerusalem church leaders on Sunday closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to protest announced plans by the city’s municipality earlier this month to collect property tax (arnona) from church-owned properties on which there are no houses of worship.
"I don't understand the protest, they are harming themselves. They should pay the tax and solve the issue or turn to the courts," said Barkat. "As mayor, I don't have any discretion relating to tax issues."
Barkat also addressed ongoing investigations into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that Netanyahu should remain in his position unless convicted of a crime.
"A man is innocent until proven guilty. I'm surprised that the investigations are being led by the media and not in the investigation rooms," said Barkat.