'Property tax exemptions for church properties must end'

J'lem mayor says unwarranted exemptions for are costing city hundreds of millions of shekels.

By DAVID HOROVITZ,
December 14, 2006 01:55
2 minute read.
uri lupolianski 88 298

uri lupolianski 88 298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Jerusalem's Mayor Uri Lupolianski said Wednesday that the long-standing arrangement under which church-owned properties in the capital are exempt from city property taxes (arnona) is costing "hundreds of millions" of shekels and must be ended. Lupolianski was speaking to The Jerusalem Post on the day that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI. The mayor said it was absolutely acceptable that Christian houses of prayer be exempt from the city taxes, but that it was unfair and unacceptable for other church holdings - including hotels, restaurants and bars, he said - to enjoy similar exemptions. "They benefit from city lighting, from garbage collection," he noted. "And I have Jewish hotel managers, for instance, asking me how it can be that their competitors can charge lower prices because they don't pay city taxes." Lupolianski said he understood the sensitivities of Israel's relationship with the Vatican and that he was not insisting that such church-owned properties necessarily be required to pay 100 percent city taxes. "There can be a compromise... say 50%," he said, "but the government must reach an agreement with the Vatican. Jerusalem can't live like this. It's discriminatory. And it's costing us hundreds of millions." Senior Israeli diplomatic officials in Rome said that while Olmert and the pope discussed in general terms the bilateral issues between Jerusalem and the Vatican, they did not get into details about how much city tax the Vatican should pay. However, the official said that issue was not over the Vatican asking for a full exemption, since they have a variety of different properties and institutions in the city and it was clear to both sides that a church, for instance, would not be taxed at the same rate as a guest house. The issue, the official said, was rather over whether an agreement, once reached, would be in force "forever," which the Vatican was demanding, or whether it might be changed some time in the future. According to the official, the Vatican wanted the agreement to be permanent, while Israel - as a democracy in which things change - felt unable to provide that type of commitment. "If we do this for the Vatican, then both the Jews and the Moslems will demand similar treatment," he said. The official said that negotiations on this issue were "moving forward," and that a Vatican team met with Foreign Ministry officials about the issue in Jerusalem on Wednesday, a follow-up to another meeting held between the two sides two weeks ago in the Vatican.

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town

By SHARON UDASIN