Churches have long been exempt from paying taxes to Israeli authorities, but a proposed law threatened to scrap centuries of precedent. The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem faced paying tens of millions of dollars in back taxes until Israel backtracked on Tuesday.

It is one of the world's holiest, most visited religious places, considered by many Christians to be where Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and then resurrected. The church closed its doors indefinitely on Sunday in protest, and what religious leaders describe as "an attempt to weaken Christians in Jerusalem".

So, is the tax dispute the reason for the almost unprecedented protest? Or is it because the Christian presence in the holy city is threatened?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra


Farid Jubran - legal adviser to the Roman Catholic Church's Custodian of Holy Sites

Frank Bosman - Associate Professor, Tilburg School of Theology

Alan Baker - Institute for Contemporary Affairs, Israel

Source: Al Jazeera News