Lutheran World Federation General Secretary Ishmael Noko met May 8 with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss the Israeli government’s rescinding of a 1967 tax exemption agreement with Augusta Victoria Hospital (see “Palestinian financial crisis affects hospital, schools") in Jerusalem.
|Augusta Victoria Hospital|
Later that day Noko wrote to the LWF Executive Committee, saying Livni reported bringing together “representatives of the Ministries of Health, Justice, Finance and Foreign Affairs to try to find a creative solution.”
Noko wrote: “It was agreed that we would mutually enter into a negotiation process. ... I pray [this produces] a mutually acceptable solution that will satisfy the LWF’s fundamental requirement that its capacity for humanitarian service in the Holy Land be protected.”
Since 1950, the LWF has owned and operated Augusta Victoria, which cares mainly for refugees from Palestinian territories. A December 2002 district court canceled the agreement as of the end of 2000, asking the hospital to remit $400,000 annually to Israel with back taxes due. The LWF filed an appeal saying Israeli authorities didn’t give lawful notice or make a lawful decision to cancel the agreement.
The appeal also said the loss of tax-exempt status would mean “the discontinuation or reduction to an absolute minimum of the activity of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.”