Christian leaders urge Israeli PM to nix church lands bill

JERUSALEM (AP) — Christian leaders in Jerusalem are urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop a bill that the churches say would allow the state to appropriate land sold to buyers.

Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian church leaders wrote a letter to Netanyahu on Friday saying the vote “constitutes a flagrant disregard” of his earlier assurances to block the legislation. The government’s Ministerial Legislation Committee will reportedly vote on the bill on Sunday.

The bill’s sponsor, lawmaker Rachel Azaria, has said the questionable sales of these properties have plunged thousands of Jerusalem residents into uncertainty over their living conditions.

Earlier this year, the churches shut Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried, for three days after the municipality tried to levy taxes on church properties.

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