by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Messianic Jewish organization Tuesday, when it overturned a Knesset (Parliament) Finance Committee decision to refuse tax-exempt status to Maoz Israel Ministries (officially known as Yachad Ramat HaSharon), World Israel News reports.
Israeli law provides that religious organizations qualify for tax-exempt status and, as a religious group, Maoz expected to be granted that status, WIN reports.
However, in 2015 the Knesset Finance Committee denied tax exemption to Maoz, on the grounds that the group conducts missionary activity in sharing the Gospel with Israelis, WIN said. According to its website, Maoz is a “Messianic Jewish ministry in Israel…a catalyst and vehicle for outreach, training, translating” that “established and underwrites a Hebrew indigenous Messianic Jewish congregation in Tel Aviv.”
The Supreme Court ruling that Maoz is allowed the tax-exempt status granted to other religious organizations drew the ire of right-wing religious MK Moshe Gafni, who led the 2015 finance committee. “The Supreme Court judges are making a last-minute attempt to interfere with the finance committee’s decisions,” Gafni said in a statement.
“The entire Knesset, government and opposition alike, agreed not to grant tax-exempt status to missionary organizations on account of their actions in opposition to the law. This is a matter that the law leaves in the hands of the Knesset, yet the Supreme Court has seen fit to cancel that authority and turn the Knesset into a rubber stamp,” Gafni said.
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