01 November 2008, 11:02
Russian Orthodox Church says seizure of real estate in Jerusalem is blackmailing
Moscow, November 1, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has severely criticized the decision of the Tel Aviv authorities to seize real estate from the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem.
Russian media reported recently that Jerusalem City Hall ordered the seizure of the lands of the St. Peter monastery in the old city of Jaffa in the suburbs of Tel Aviv explaining the decision in terms on tax arrears. Lawyers for the Russian mission said that the mission received no tax notifications, because they were sent to a wrong address.
"This tax story is the result of shortcomings in the work of Tel Aviv municipal authorities. It has no legal grounds, because religious organizations in Israel are exempted from taxes," deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk told Interfax-Religion on Saturday.
Bishop Mark, who earlier served in the Russian Mission in Jerusalem, this situation bears "an element of provocation and blackmailing of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission."
"This is a kind of racket on behalf of the Tel Aviv City Hall," the Bishop said.
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