However, the piece sparked protests, which became violent on Friday, when three police officers were injured as dozens of demonstrators tried to force their way into the Haifa Museum of Art.
One person was arrested on suspicion of assault after clashes outside the gallery, while investigators are searching for two other individuals suspected of throwing firebombs at the building.
“I object to this disgraceful sculpture,” said Nicola Abdo, a Haifa resident and protester. “As a Christian person, I take deep offence to this depiction of our symbols.”
Christian Arabs, who make up around two per cent of Israel’s population, initially won support for their cause from the country’s populist culture minister Miri Regev.
Ms Regev, who won plaudids on the right for censuring art deemed pro-Palestinian, threatened to cut state funding for the museum on the grounds it had offended religious sensitivities.
However, Israel’s justice ministry rebuked her suggestion, claiming she did not have authority to take such actions.
The mayor of Haifa, Einat Kalisch-Rotem, announced in a tweet late on Wednesday McJesus would be taken out of the exhibition following consultations with church leaders.
“The sculpture will be removed and returned as soon as possible,” Einat Kalish Rotem tweeted.
“We regret the aggravation the Christian community experienced and the physical injury and violence that surrounded it.”
Artist Mr Leionen, known for his public artworks criticising capitalism using the branding and logos of multinational corporations, has also demanded the artwork be removed from the exhibition.
He told Israeli newspaper Haaretz he had asked the museum to take the piece off display last September because he wanted to show solidarity with Palestinians.
The sculptor accused the country of using art and culture to “whitewash and justify” the occupation of the West Bank.
Meanwhile, some in the city see the decision to remove the artwork as an opportunity for reconciliation between religious groups.
“The winner today is the people of Haifa,” said Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to local church leaders. “The removal of this sculpture is a reflection our desire to coexist in the city.”
Additional reporting by AP
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