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Israel suspends plan to levy taxes on Jerusalem churches

Christian worshipers pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre [File photo, Saeb Awad/Apaimages]

The Israeli prime minister's office on Tuesday announced that Israel's Jerusalem municipality had suspended plans to levy taxes on property owned by churches in Jerusalem.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat have agreed to establish a professional team to formulate a solution to the issue of municipal taxes on properties owned by churches that are not houses of worship," the statement read.

The team will include representatives of Israel's finance, foreign affairs and the interior ministries, along with the Jerusalem Municipality, who "will negotiate with church representatives to resolve the issue", according to the statement.

Read: Palestinian government calls for international protection for Jerusalem churches

The apparent reversal prompted joyous celebrations by hundreds of Palestinian Christians who gathered outside Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher to express their satisfaction.

"Over 500 Palestinians marched through the streets of Jerusalem's Old City to celebrate the decision," Adeeb Joudeh al-Husseini, custodian of the iconic church, said.

Demonstrators demanded the total cancellation of the new tax policy and condemned all arbitrary measures taken by Israel against Christian churches,

he added.

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