Muslim mayor of Nazareth uses Christmas to protest US' Jerusalem move

The mayor of the Israeli town of Nazareth said has taken the "joy" out of Christmas with his decision earlier this month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Newsweek reports that the cancellation will impact the local economy "severely", as tens of thousands of people usually travel to the town during the Christmas season for the festivities.

Nazareth's Muslim Mayor Ali Salam told Reuters on Saturday that Christmas celebrations will continue as planned, though three singers who were supposed to perform will not appear.

Christmas celebrations are still happening in Nazareth, believed to be the hometown of Jesus Christ, even though President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel angered the mayor this week.

"We have made a decision to cancel the traditional Christmas singing and dancing because we are in a time of dispute, because of what Trump has said about Jerusalem", city spokesman Salem Sharara said.

The celebrations are a major tourist draw and income source for Nazareth, which is populated primarily by Arab citizens of Israel - two-thirds of whom are Muslims and one-third of whom are Christians, the Times added.

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Mayor Ali termed Trump "wretched" and said the U.S. president had "stabbed" Palestinians with the Jerusalem decision. The city is also claimed by the Palestinian population, and Jerusalem is home to some of the most sacred sites in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

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.

Earlier this month, Trump made his controversial decision to move the USA embassy to Jerusalem, overturning years of American policy. The Christian savior also grew up in the town, according to the New Testament.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Palestinians maintain that Jerusalem will be the capital of their future state.

But the militant Palestinian group Hamas said Trump's decision "opens the gates of hell". "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".


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