Anton Salman, the mayor of Bethlehem, claimed the city “toned down” its Christmas celebrations and festivities because of President Trump formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Historically known as the biblical birthplace of Jesus Christ and located only a few miles from Jerusalem, the Palestinian city purposefully limited Christmas events this year as a form of protest to Trump’s decision.
“We decided to limit the Christmas celebrations to the religious rituals as an expression of rejection and anger and sympathy with the victims who fell in the recent protests,” Salman told the New York Daily News. “We want to show the people that we are people who deserve life, deserve our freedom, deserve our independence, deserve Jerusalem as our capital.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, fewer tourists traveled to the city this year than in the past. Local residents said Tuesday that tourists avoided traveling to Bethlehem after clashes broke out along the West Bank following Trump’s policy decision.
Palestinian students reportedly handed out flyers to visitors of the city, captioned “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”
Trump announced earlier this month that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to jumpstart the process of moving the U.S. embassy there. The decision was met with international backlash, as well as condemnation from the United Nations.
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