The Great Synagogue.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Ariel Horowitz )
Social justice groups and Christian organizations petitioned the High Court of
Justice over the weekend against a law granting synagogues exemption from
municipal real-estate taxes (arnona).
The petition, filed by
Jerusalem-based law firm Yehuda Raveh & Co on behalf of the Jerusalem
Institute of Justice and four other nonprofit groups, names as respondents
Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, the Interior Ministry and the Knesset, and
concerns an amendment to the municipal and property tax law passed by the
Knesset in March 2010.
The law, known as Amendment 17, exempts buildings
or parts of buildings used for Torah study and religious culture from municipal
taxes, where the main purpose of the building is a synagogue.
petitioners, who also include the King of Kings Puerto Rican Church in Tel Aviv
and the Tivat Harahamim charity, a Haifa-based Messianic (Christian) community,
argue that the law violates the equality of religious minorities in Israel,
because it does not apply to places of worship used by non-
According to the petition, the law violates Israel’s democratic
character as well as human rights and social values by discriminating against
citizens of other religions.
“Even if buildings used for education and
Torah studies should be exempted, it is not worth the undoubted harm to
democratic values and constitutional rights,” the petitioners claim.
ask the High Court to issue an interim injunction ordering the attorney- general
to instruct local authorities to interpret the law as applying to all places of
worship used by Israeli citizens, including non-Jews, or to order the Knesset to
amend the law so that it specifically refers to other religions, in particular
mosques and churches.