Nazareth to observe most Christmas festivities despite anger over Trump

Christmas celebrations were canceled in Nazareth in response to President Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem Israel's capital

Nazareth to observe most Christmas festivities despite anger over Trump

Nazareth, a Muslim-majority city in Israel where Christians believe Jesus was raised, has officially canceled its Christmas celebrations this year.

This year, the town has announced it will cut back on its Christmas festivities, claiming U.S. President Donald Trump has leached all the joy out of the holiday after his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate", Mr. Salam said during a press conference Thursday, Newsweek reported. "The decision [by Donald Trump] has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this year". During the holiday season, the city hosts a Christmas market among a number of other celebrations that attract large crowds from around the world.

When Trump announced the decision he reiterated his commitment to peace in the Middle East, noting the previous policy of not recognizing "the reality" that Jerusalem is Israel's capital brought us "no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians".

Salam's statement came as the start of the Christmas festivities was set to begin in Nazareth later Saturday with the lighting of the tree. "We have already welcomed 60,000 people to the city today".

Reuters pointed out that the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, also briefly switched off its Christmas lights last week in protest.

Israel has long called for Jerusalem to be recognised as its capital after it established it as such - in name, at least - since it occupied the eastern part of the city after the Six Days War in 1967.

It comes amid a backlash across the region after Mr Trump announced he would begin the process of shifting the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, after symbolically recognising it as the capital of the country. The Christian savior also grew up in the town, according to the New Testament.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the recognition as a "historic day" that is an "important step toward peace". "This shows the world that Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is not up for negotiation, and America is and shall always remain a loyal ally of Israel". On Wednesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an umbrella group of 57 Muslim countries, met in Istanbul and issued a communiqué denouncing Trump's decision.

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