President Reuven Rivlin meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, November 15, 2018.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin met with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on Thursday morning, and thanked the pontiff for his support in the fight against antisemitism on behalf of Israel and world Jewry.
“Your absolute condemnation of acts of antisemitism and your definition of such acts as anti-Christian are a significant step in the ongoing fight to stamp it out,” said the president.
Rivlin also discussed the controversy between Jerusalem city hall and the city’s various churches over municipal property taxes.
“The State of Israel has full freedom of worship for all religions in all holy places,” Rivlin said.
In February, the municipality announced its intention to start collecting taxes from properties owned by churches that are not prayer houses. The municipality notified the Finance, Interior and Foreign ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office that it will start collecting NIS 650 million in tax from 887 properties. It said that until February it had refrained from such tax collections because the state did not permit it.
The move outraged churches based in Jerusalem, which in a rare protest closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The audience was Rivlin’s second with Pope Francis
. Their first meeting, also at the invitation of the Pope, took place in 2015.
The president and his wife Nechama received an official welcome to the Vatican, reviewing the Pontifical Swiss Guard in their traditional uniforms.
On Friday, the president will also meet with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Italian President, Ynet News reported. The three leaders will discuss recent political changes in the Middle East and the strengthening of relations between Israel and Italy.Udi Shaham contributed to this report.
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