Jerusalem mayor suspends plan to tax churches

JERUSALEM (AP) — Jerusalem’s mayor has suspended a plan to collect taxes from churches, easing a crisis that had led to a three-day closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In an announcement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he and Mayor Nir Barkat had formed a team to “formulate a solution” to the matter. The team will negotiate with church officials.

There was no immediate response from church officials.

Barkat says his tax plan applies only to commercial properties owned by churches, not houses of worship. But the churches say the plan violates longstanding understandings.

In protest, major Christian denominations on Sunday closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected.