The Latest: Jerusalem mayor suspends plan to tax churches

The Latest on the Jerusalem mayor's move to collect taxes from Christian denominations, which prompted the closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Jerusalem's mayor has suspended a plan to collect taxes from churches, easing a crisis that had led to a three-day closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In an announcement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he and Mayor Nir Barkat had formed a team to "formulate a solution" to the matter. The team will negotiate with church officials.

There was no immediate response from church officials.

Barkat says his tax plan applies only to commercial properties owned by churches, not houses of worship. But the churches say the plan violates longstanding understandings.

In protest, major Christian denominations on Sunday closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected.


2:15 p.m.

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.