Christmas message from the mayor of Bethlehem

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In a silent and unique night that held the tidings of a glorious event, Jesus Christ was born in the manger of a humble grotto in the town of Bethlehem.

The prophecy was fulfilled “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

In the Christmas season we unite our prayers for peace and justice in Palestine and in the whole world. This year we pray for our brothers in Gaza who suffer from humiliation, hunger, sickness and homelessness as a result of the continuous Israeli aggression on their houses and lands.

This month we commemorate our Lord’s Nativity, and the international recognition of our long awaited state of Palestine in the historical voting at the General Assembly of the United Nations. This victory, of obtaining a birth certificate for our state, represents an earnest step towards achieving peace in the Middle East and international legitimacy.

And we proudly celebrate UNESCO’s decision of inscribing the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrim’s Route on the World Heritage List, which is a source of pride and celebration for every Bethlehemite and Palestinian alike, and a confirmation of our national Palestinian identity.

I seize this opportunity to extend a sincere invitation for all people of good will to visit Bethlehem, and I warmly welcome visitors from all corners of the world, who came this year to share with us the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ in the heart of our holy town.

I hope they would sense the holiness and authenticity of Bethlehem while wandering in its streets and corners, and experience the warmth of its citizens’ hospitality. I urge our families in the Arab world to visit our holy places in solidarity with the people and against the Israeli occupation.

Vera Baboun was elected Mayor of Bethlehem in October 2012.

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