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This is an image of Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem

If you take a look around Bethlehem, one is bound to be shocked by the choking reality this city has been forced to endure. Surrounded by 22 Israeli settlements and extremist settlers; its land shrunk to a mere 13 percent of its original size because of the encroaching reality of Israeli unilateralism.

For first time in 2000 years of Christianity in our homeland, the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem have been completely separated by Israeli settlements and racist walls and checkpoints.

Bethlehem’s landscape, heritage and social fabric are besiege and under threat. Yet, Bethlehem shall remain, as it has been for over 2000 years, a city that emanates hope and peace to humanity. Because Bethlehem’s identity as the birthplace of Christ is not just a matter of history and faith; it is an identity and heritage Palestine is proud to have.

We celebrate Bethlehem, a city where world heritage sites abound and where the will to live in pride and dignity has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Our daily reality under a brutal occupation tests our faith in humanity every day. But we overcome, always. That is why Bethlehem is a success story that Palestine is deeply proud of. For despite the apartheid regime of the colonial wall, illegal settlements, and oppression, the citizens of Bethlehem continue to persevere.

In Bethlehem, we resist oppression with love, we defy oppression with pride; we build the institutions of our state and develop our infrastructure despite the occupation’s machinery of destruction.

With hope and unshakable faith in our rights to national freedom and prosperity, we unmask the ugliness of racism and humiliation through life, prayers, and art.

Perhaps there is no brighter example to the power of hope and faith than that of the non-violent mobilization of Beit Jala residents, who continue to resist Israel’s campaign of land confiscation and wall construction in their town, which now threatens the Cremisan area.

Every Friday afternoon they conduct prayers amidst the same olive trees that Israel plans to confiscate to build the illegal wall; trees that have been harvested for centuries by 58 Palestinian Christian families. And every Friday, the number of people from across Palestine and beyond attending this prayer grows, their message of hope and strength resonating beyond the confines of Israel’s wall regime. I call upon all of you, to listen to their prayers and help stop an additional impending injustice.

This year will be remembered as the year that Palestine was recognized as a State with overwhelming support. We are presenting the world with a moment of truth: our continuing bid for freedom and for full UN membership is an opportunity for the international community to do right by Palestine and grant it its long overdue right to a future of freedom and prosperity. The world has long pledged support for the two-state solution. We went to the world, represented by the UN, to translate this pledge into a reality.

With hope, we have preserved our homeland and rights from crushing defeat by the might of a military occupation that denies us our most basic rights. With your support, we can save the two-state solution and build for a better future, where hope can finally bloom into prosperity, not just preserve a nation’s identity.

Here, I would like to thank the 133 countries that took the courageous step of recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. To them I say, you have stood on the right side of history, by taking a step that vindicates justice and protects peace. We call upon the rest of the world to follow suit and bring peace close to realization.

Ladies and gentlemen, Christians from all over the world and distinguished pilgrims visiting our country. When you enter Bethlehem you either through the wall or Israeli military checkpoint.

Those who have lived the Bethlehem experience have been welcomed, as always, by the hospitality of our people. Many of you have supported this community through your invaluable assistance and cooperation. And because we value your investment in Bethlehem’s future, we call on you all to invest in peace and take the necessary courageous political action; with your help, we can ensure that next Christmas, we can be free from the bitterness of a life shackled by injustice and oppression.

For next Christmas, Palestine wishes to experience the timeless message of love, justice, and peace that the Prince of Peace brought to Palestine and humanity more than 2000 years ago, not just hope for its realization.

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.

The General Delegation of the PLO to the US wishes the Palestinian Christian community, and the community at large, a blessed and merry holiday season on the advent of Christmas.

This year, the holy town of Bethlehem welcomes Christmas with hope and pride highlighted by the designation of the Church of Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, as a world heritage site by UNESCO, and by Palestine’s newly elevated status at the United Nations.

On this occasion, we are reminded of Israel’s choking occupation of Bethlehem, of the suffering Israel’s illegal wall causes to pilgrims from all over the world, and of the 22 illegal settlements that surround the town of Bethlehem.

Yet, despite of Israel’s continued defiance, this season we continue the tradition of celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, and look forward to a viable, independent, sovereign, and contiguous Palestine.

We pray to God that next year we will celebrate this occasion with Bethlehem and Palestine free of the Israeli military occupation so that peace can return to the land of peace.


Bethlehem is a vivid example of the severe and appalling effects that Israeli colonization policies have had in Palestine. Illegal confiscation of land, expulsion of Palestinian families and on-going construction of Israeli settlements are few of countless stories that can be heard from the inhabitants of Palestine in general, and Bethlehem in particular. Effectively, Israel has sought to change the demographic and geographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, by taking as much as land and as many natural resources as possible with as few Palestinians as possible, for the benefit of the illegal colonial enterprise.

Complete Fact Sheet.

Christmas is a national holiday for Palestinians, who celebrate at three different times according to the Catholic, Greek-Orthodox and Armenian calendars. For Christians, Bethlehem is the place where the singular moment of salvation history took place. For non-Christians, the message of Bethlehem is timeless and goes beyond borders. Its message of peace and reconciliation is universal, touching the deepest hopes and dreams of all nations and peoples. For Palestinians, no hope for human dignity, independence or peace is possible until the occupation ends.

Complete Document.

For a list of contact information of spokespeople in Bethlehem including government officials and church leaders covering a wide range of topics such as tourism, Bethlehem and settlements, as well as the economy, please click here.

To call from the United States, please dial 011 972 followed by the provided numbers without the initial zero.

The list includes spokespeople who can conduct interviews in the following languages: Arabic, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Armenian, and/or Czech.