Jerusalem mayor says he's trying to resolve church crisis

The mayor of Jerusalem says he is working with a third party to resolve a tax dispute with major Christian denominations that has led to the closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christianity's holiest sites.

Mayor Nir Birkat told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he wants to negotiate "in the right way." He declined to identify the third party.

Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and other Christian leaders on Sunday closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to protest Barkat's decision to force them to pay property taxes.

Barkat says the taxes apply only to "commercial properties," and not houses of worship.

Church officials say they were blindsided by the decision.

Barkat says his decision is in line with practices common around the world.