Nazareth cancels Christmas celebrations over Trump's Israel decision

The residents of Nazareth are primarily Arab citizens of Israel.

Nazareth mayor Ali Salam decided Thursday to keep most Christmas festivities intact despite Palestinian anger over US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"Our identity and faith can not be bargained", said Salam.

"We have made a decision to cancel the traditional Christmas singing and dancing because we are in a time of dispute, because of what Trump has said about Jerusalem", city spokesman Salem Sharara said.

The cancelation of the usual festivities, which feature a Christmas parade, market and several concerts, drew huge tens of thousands of pilgrims each year. Yet the president has managed to dampen the Christmas spirit on the other side of the world with his offensive, widely panned decision on Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, a city spokesman said there would be some cuts to the celebrations to protest against President Donald Trump's decision on Jerusalem that angered Palestinians as well as USA allies in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Christmas Eve is much celebrated in Nazareth, the town of the Galilee where Jesus is believed to have grown up, despite of predominantly Muslim town, Christmas celebration is strongly participated.

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Reuters pointed out that the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, also briefly switched off its Christmas lights last week in protest. The status of Jerusalem is at the center of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians because the city is sacred to Judaism and Islam.

The Brotherly Covenant, an organization devoted to incorporating Christians into Israeli society, said the decision to cancel festivities in Nazareth "harms Christians in Israel and in the world on their holy day". Trump has also ordered the USA embassy moved from Tel Aviv, though that process is likely to take years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Half of Jerusalem has been envisioned as the future capital of a Palestinian state, if a two-state solution is reached between Israel and Palestine.

Following the 1967 Middle East war, Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital.

Israeli fighter jets also bombed Hamas targets in Gaza, officials said, after militants fired rockets from the region towards Israeli territory.

  • Megan Austin