Trump blamed for cancellation of Christmas in Nazareth

Nazareth Mayor Ali Salem January 2014

The Muslim-majority town, in what is now Israel, is believed by Christians to be the place where Jesus Christ was raised.

Mayor Ali Salam, who once made the curious boast that U.S. President Donald Trump "learned everything from me" about how to win elections, indicated that he was punishing local and visiting Christians as revenge for the President's decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate", Ali Salam, the Muslim mayor of Nazareth, said on Thursday. "The decision [by Donald Trump] has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this year". Christmas events in the city, which is a center of Christian pilgrimage, normally provide a big boost to its economy. 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.

Mr Trump announced the move last week, reversing decades of United States policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, jeopardising Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies alike.

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"Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel's capital", Mr Trump said in a speech in the White House last week.

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. The status of Jerusalem is at the center of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians because the city is sacred to Judaism and Islam. Trump has also ordered the USA embassy moved from Tel Aviv, though that process is likely to take years. Israel's I-24 News also reported this move.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital by Trump sparked a wave of outrage in the Arab world, even though he still signed a six-months waiver which has delayed the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem since a 1995 Congress vote in favor of the move. 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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