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17338No Free Water Deal for Old City Church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Dec 31, 2012
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      City: No Free Water Deal for Old City Church
      Pay your bills as the Kotel and Knesset do, a spokesperson for the
      Jerusalem Municipality told officials at a major Jerusalem church.
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 12/31/2012, 8:08 AM

      Reports that the government and the Jerusalem municipality were planning
      to pick up the tab for eight years of water bills unpaid by the Church
      of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City were premature, said a member of
      the City Council.

      Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) representative David Hadari, who is a member
      of the Council as well as a Deputy Mayor in the city, said that the
      Council's finance committee had rejected the deal that would have
      written off NIS 9 million ($2.3 million) in debt for the Church, on
      condition that the various factions that claim to control the foundation
      that runs the Church worked out their grievances when it came to paying
      the water bill starting in 2013.

      A deal was signed between the city and the Church several weeks ago,
      after intense negotiations between the the municipality, the Gihon
      Jerusalem water company and the three Catholic bodies that claim to
      control the Church. The negotiations began after the company threatened
      to cut off the Church's water supply because it was in such arrears.
      Under the arrangement, the three bodies that share control of the site -
      Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic Franciscan Order
      Churches – will begin paying the Church's bill for part of 2012, and
      begin paying on time in 2013.

      The Church and the water company further discussed the possibility of
      setting up a fund that would pay for water for poor families belonging
      to the Church, with contributions from both sides.

      A spokesperson for the finance committee dismissed the idea of a bailout
      for the Church just because it is considered a holy place by Catholics.
      The spokesperson said that all other important institutions in the city
      – including the Kotel, Yad Vashem, and Knesset – all paid their bills on
      time, and with no special arrangements. It would thus be unfair, the
      spokesperson said, to give preference to the Church, and the city was
      prepared to deal with international fallout from the case, if such
      should develop.

      Gihon did not indicate when, or if, it would stop supplying water to the