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World’s most revered church seeks i nternational backing in $2.3mln water bil l standoff

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://rt.com/news/jerusalem-church-water-bill-conflict-488/ World’s most revered church seeks international backing in $2.3mln water bill standoff 12
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2012
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      http://rt.com/news/jerusalem-church-water-bill-conflict-488/

      World’s most revered church seeks international backing in $2.3mln water
      bill standoff
      12 November, 2012

      Jerusalem’s Church of Holy Sepulchre called on world leaders to help end
      what it calls an existentially “aggressive move” – Jerusalem’s water
      supply company has demanded it pay an overdue $2.3 million water bill.

      ­The Christian denominations that jointly manage the church, including
      the Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian, have begun a campaign to
      win support in their battle with Hagihon, Jersualem’s water supply company.

      They recently sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netenyahu
      and President Shimon Perez calling for “an end to this aggressive move”.

      Similar letters have been sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the
      prime ministers of Greece and Cyprus, King Abdullah of Jordan and US
      President Barack Obama.

      The dispute has also angered the Muslim Brotherhood. A statement
      released on the group’s official English-language website on Saturday
      condemned the “Zionist occupation authorities’ intransigence towards the
      Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.”

      The water bill in question is to the tune of 9 million sheqels – roughly
      $2.3 million – for the church’s water supply over the last 7 years.

      The church’s owners, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, claim they have
      always been exempt from water utility costs.

      Hagihon is adamant that the church pay its bill, and the water company
      has successfully managed to have Church’s bank account frozen.

      "The church is completely paralyzed. We can't pay for toilet paper.
      Nothing. Hagihon has declared war on us," a Patriarchate official told
      Israeli newspaper Maariv.

      Hagihon is prohibited by the Israeli Water Authority from exempting any
      party from water charges, and more than 1,000 religious institutions in
      Jerusalem pay their bills regularly.

      Jerusalem authorities have never demanded payments from the Church in
      the past. After the city privatized its water supply in the 1990s,
      however, Hagihon had the option of pressing the issue.

      In 2004, Hagihon sent a water-consumption bill to the church for 3.7
      million shekels ($946,500). According to the Guardian, Church officials
      mistook it for a clerical mistake and ignored the bill, and Hagihon
      never pressed for payment until now.

      The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has refused to negotiate with Hagihon,
      and could even close the Church for the first time in centuries in
      protest over the dispute.
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