Bethlehem locals say President Trump ruined Christmas

Locals in the city of Bethlehem— the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ — are blaming President Trump for ruining Christmas amid his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The city’s Manger Square held its annual Christmas Eve march and worshippers went to midnight mass on Sunday, but crowds were significantly thinner.

Locals say tourism was lower than last year — as many stayed away from recent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis.

“Trump is the first reason this is a sad Christmas,” Khulud Ilayan, a student at Al-Quds Open University, told the Jerusalem Post. “I see less people and people are sad. All of the people here don’t like that man.”

French tourist Claire Degout said Trump’s decision didn’t deter her from celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land.

“The decision of one man cannot affect all the Holy Land,” Degout said. “Jerusalem belongs to everybody, you know, and it will be always like that, whatever Trump says.”

The President announced on Dec. 6 plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and said the U.S. Embassy would move to the Holy City. His announcement prompted massive protests across the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and near Bethlehem, which is south of Jerusalem.

The U.N. General Assembly voted 128 to 9 on Friday condemning Trump stance on Jerusalem.

Anton Salman, Bethlehem's mayor, said Christmas celebrations were toned down in response to Trump’s foreign policy decision.

“We decided to limit the Christmas celebrations to the religious rituals as an expression of rejection and anger and sympathy with the victims who fell in the recent protests,” the mayor said.

“We want to show the people that we are people who deserve life, deserve our freedom, deserve our independence, deserve Jerusalem as our capital,” Salman continued.

With News Wire Services