Concerns about the tensions and that pilgrims will decide to cancel their visit: "We hope, indeed we ask everyone to come, not to cancel their trips". Two days ago, the meeting between the leaders of the Churches and President Abbas. Jerusalem for Christian Palestinians must be "a city of the world, a universal city, a city of peace".
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A Christmas with a "bitter taste". This is how Sobhy Makhoul, deacon of the Maronite Patriarchate of Jerusalem, describes the Palestinian Christian community’s expectation of the Christmas holidays, worried by the tensions and the possibility that many pilgrims will renounce their journey out of fear. The "unfortunate" decision of the American president Donald Trump "has stirred the whole country", and has proved not only "out of place" but also "untimely".
"In many places the festivities have been abandoned, there are planned protests. Even today will be a very hard day: a general strike has been called. Because of such a decision, announced before Christmas, many will celebrate with a bitter taste", says Makhoul.
"Christmas trees are lit in the squares 10 days or two weeks before Christmas. Some decided to cancel the ceremonies, others did not. The parishes are preparing for Christmas as usual, following the Eastern rites, but the festivities, like the Christmas markets, are subdued because of the tensions".
On December 6th, after Trump’s announcement, the lights of the Bethlehem tree - lit a few days before - were dimmed (see photo no.1).
Two days ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Christian leaders for traditional Christmas greetings (see photo # 2). On this occasion, he reiterated that the Palestinians will continue to struggle by peaceful means. "The Apostolic Administrator [Msgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa] said that we must not cancel our festivals, on the contrary, we must celebrate to show that we are present, to demonstrate and show our belonging to this land, to this country ".
"People are a little worried about how the situation will evolve," continues Makhoul. "We are expecting thousands and thousands of pilgrims between Christmas and the Epiphany, when there is always a great movement of pilgrimages. We hope that they will not be influenced by the news carried by the global press. We hope, indeed, we ask everyone to come, not to cancel their travels, thus showing their solidarity to all the Arabs here and especially to the local Church and to Jerusalem ".
The Christian Palestinians follow the line of the Church and ask for a "Jerusalem open to all", international, removed from "the hands of any political affiliation that could be against one side of the other. Neither Israel, nor Palestine, nor Arabs, nor Muslims, nor Christians, which is truly a city of the world, a universal city, a city of peace ".