Nazareth municipality cancels Christmas celebrations in protest against Trump speech

Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel with a population of 76,000 Muslims and Christians, is one of the Holy Land's focal points of Christmas festivities which begin officially on Saturday evening.

The mayor of Nazareth said Saturday that Christmas celebrations would go ahead in Jesus' hometown, only days after announcing holiday festivities would be canceled in protest of the USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate", Salam said Thursday. "The decision has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this 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.

After the contentious move, Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam, who found the decision offensive, announced numerous Christmas festivities will be canceled in protest.

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Trump argued that he is recognizing historical reality with his announcement that the U.S.is to begin a process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, the local administration has already walked back his aggressive position somewhat, conceding "there are commercial interests of the city and we are used to hundreds of thousands [of Christians] coming for this season".

Nazareth is traditionally thought to be where Jesus grew up.

The Palestinian towns of Bethlehem where Jesus is traditionally believed to be born and Ramallah in the illegally occupied West Bank briefly turned off their Christmas lights in protest as well.

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"I$3 invite all the residents of the State of Israel - the Jews, Muslims and Christians - to come to the city of Nazareth and take part in the Christmas celebrations", said Salam. ISIS threatened war on USA soil in response to the decision, and a group of Muslim leaders in 57 countries denounced Trump's move.

Mr Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital city, was a significant U.S. policy change.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, welcomed Trump's decision as "a new and genuine milestone in the glorious history of this city".

Many Israeli leaders support Trump's decision, claiming that Jerusalem is the undivided capital 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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