Hundreds of Palestinians and pilgrims attended the annual tree-lighting ceremony in Bethlehem’s Manger Square on Thursday, during which Mayor Victor Batarse lit a 15-meter Christmas tree, commencing celebrations in the town thought to be the birthplace of Jesus.
“From here comes out our theme for this Christmas: Palestine celebrating hope, as this year we are approaching the birth of our independent Palestinian state, with serious steps. These steps are represented by gaining permanent membership of Palestine in the UNESCO.” Victor Batarse, mayor of Bethlehem.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad expressed his happiness in observing the beginning of Christmas celebrations in the nation, as well as the rest of the world.
Bethlehem has experienced stability as of late after many years of intense clashes, which began with the uprising for Palestinian independence, in 2000. Tourism in the West Bank town has been steadily on the rise, with some calling it a boom.
While Israelis claim the calm has been the result of the barriers erected for security measures around the West Bank, Palestinians say the barriers only make their lives more difficult.
Victor Batarse – Mayor of Bethlehem