Seasonal celebrations are in full swing in the traditional birthplace of Jesus as Bethlehem’s Mayor hails a Christmas of hope for the Palestinian people.
Thousands have flocked to the biblical town which, after years of violence, has been enjoying relative calm. Security is still tight but there is optimism in the air. After UNESCO admission, local leaders are hoping for full Palestinian membership of the United Nations.
“We are celebrating this Christmas, hoping that in the near future we will get our right to self-determination, our right to establish our own democratic, secular, Palestinian state on Palestinian land,” said Bethlehem’s Mayor Victor Batarseh.
From Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, to less spiritual activities like actors dressing up as Santa Claus, Bethlehem looks to be giving visitors a very happy Christmas.