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.

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Bethlehem Christmas Eve 2017
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Bethlehem Christmas Eve 2017
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : A woman lights a candle during a mass within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa (C), Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, leads a mass within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa (C), Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, leads a mass within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa (C), Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, poses for a photo during the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa (L), Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, greets the crowd during the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : Women with costumes pose for a photo during the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : People gather within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : People gather within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : A man with a uniform carries a Palestinian flag within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : Christians attend the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : A marching band playing bagpipes parade within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : A marching band playing bagpipes parade within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : A man plays a bagpipe within the 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : Decorations are being displayed at Manger Square as people gather to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : A general view Manger Square as people gather to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 24 : A general view Manger Square as people gather to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2017. Local and foreign visitors gathered for 'Jerusalem is Capital of Palestine' themed Christmas celebrations at Church of the Nativity, which believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Palestinian policeman stands guard at the Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity as people gather for Christmas Eve celebrations in the town of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on December 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER (Photo credit should read MUSA AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)
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“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.”


33 PHOTOS
Arabs, Muslims protest Trump's Jerusalem decision
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Arabs, Muslims protest Trump's Jerusalem decision
Demonstrators pray during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Palestinians react during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinian demonstrators burn posters of the US president in Bethlehem's Manger Square in protest to him declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, 2017. Abbas said the United States can no longer play the role of peace broker after Donald Trump's decision on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER (Photo credit should read MUSA AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian refugee family watches a televised broadcast of U.S. President Donald Trump delivering an address where he is expected to announce that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
Palestinian refugee family watches a televised broadcast of U.S. President Donald Trump delivering an address where he is expected to announce that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
Palestinian refugee family watches a televised broadcast of U.S. President Donald Trump delivering an address where he is expected to announce that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
A Palestinian refugee watches a televised broadcast of U.S. President Donald Trump delivering an address where he is expected to announce that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
A Palestinian refugee family watches a televised broadcast of U.S. President Donald Trump delivering an address where he is expected to announce that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
U.S. President Donald Trump and ?Vice President Mike Pence? arrive for Trump to deliver remarks recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the White House in Washington, U.S. December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Palestinians react during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians react during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians react during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Palestinians prepare to burn a representation of an Israeli flag during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Hamas supporters stage a protest against the possible U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Gaza City , Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. President Donald Trump is forging ahead with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests. (Photo by Ezz al-Zanoun/NurPhoto(
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh during a protest against the possible U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Gaza City , Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. President Donald Trump is forging ahead with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests. (Photo by Ezz al-Zanoun/NurPhoto(
Hamas supporters stage a protest against the possible U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Gaza City , Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. President Donald Trump is forging ahead with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests. (Photo by Ezz al-Zanoun/NurPhoto(
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh during a protest against the possible U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Gaza City , Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. President Donald Trump is forging ahead with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests. (Photo by Ezz al-Zanoun/NurPhoto(
A woman holds a sign during a demonstration against the US and Israel at Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on December 6, 2017. Hundreds of people staged protests in Istanbul angrily denouncing the US president's move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. / AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian demonstrators stand on posters of the US president in Bethlehem's Manger Square in protest to him declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, 2017. Abbas said the United States can no longer play the role of peace broker after Donald Trump's decision on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER (Photo credit should read MUSA AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian demonstrators burn posters of the US president in Bethlehem's Manger Square in protest to him declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, 2017. Abbas said the United States can no longer play the role of peace broker after Donald Trump's decision on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER (Photo credit should read MUSA AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters wave Palestinian flags and chant slogans during a demonstration against the US and Israel in front of the US consulate in Istanbul on December 6, 2017. Hundreds of people staged a protest outside the US consulate in Istanbul angrily denouncing the US president's move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Around 1,500 people gathered outside the well-protected compound close to the Bosphorus which was sealed off by police with barricades, an AFP correspondent said. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 06: Protesters wave flags and shout slogans outside the U.S. Consulate on December 6, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. People gathered to protest after U.S President Donald Trump declared recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Trump went ahead with the announcement despite warnings from Middle East leaders and the Pope condemning the decision. The announcement which breaks decades of U.S. policy threatens to bring further instability to the region. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 06: Protesters wave flags and shout slogans outside the U.S. Consulate on December 6, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. People gathered to protest after U.S President Donald Trump declared recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Trump went ahead with the announcement despite warnings from Middle East leaders and the Pope condemning the decision. The announcement which breaks decades of U.S. policy threatens to bring further instability to the region. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 06: Protesters wave flags and shout slogans outside the U.S. Consulate on December 6, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. People gathered to protest after U.S President Donald Trump declared recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Trump went ahead with the announcement despite warnings from Middle East leaders and the Pope condemning the decision. The announcement which breaks decades of U.S. policy threatens to bring further instability to the region. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 06: Protesters wave flags and shout slogans outside the U.S. Consulate on December 6, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. People gathered to protest after U.S President Donald Trump declared recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Trump went ahead with the announcement despite warnings from Middle East leaders and the Pope condemning the decision. The announcement which breaks decades of U.S. policy threatens to bring further instability to the region. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 06: Protesters wave flags and shout slogans outside the U.S. Consulate on December 6, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. People gathered to protest after U.S President Donald Trump declared recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Trump went ahead with the announcement despite warnings from Middle East leaders and the Pope condemning the decision. The announcement which breaks decades of U.S. policy threatens to bring further instability to the region. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - DECEMBER 6: Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh (4th L) attends a protest against US President Donald Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital, in Gaza City, Gaza on December 6, 2017. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - DECEMBER 6: Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh attends a protest against US President Donald Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital, in Gaza City, Gaza on December 6, 2017. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protesters chant slogans and hold a poster with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi and placards reading 'There is no you or me, there is Jerusalem- Killer Israel get out of Palestine' during a demonstration against the US and Israel at Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on December 6, 2017. Hundreds of people staged protests in Istanbul angrily denouncing the US president's move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. / AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester burns an Israeli flag printed on a piece of paper during a demonstration against the US and Israel in front of the US consulate in Istanbul on December 6, 2017. Hundreds of people staged a protest outside the US consulate in Istanbul angrily denouncing the US president's move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Around 1,500 people gathered outside the well-protected compound close to the Bosphorus which was sealed off by police with barricades, an AFP correspondent said. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters chant slogans and raise their fingers during a demonstration against the US and Israel in front of the US consulate in Istanbul on December 6, 2017. Hundreds of people staged a protest outside the US consulate in Istanbul angrily denouncing the US president's move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Around 1,500 people gathered outside the well-protected compound close to the Bosphorus which was sealed off by police with barricades, an AFP correspondent said. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester wearing a niqab waves a flag during a demonstration against the US and Israel in front of the US consulate in Istanbul on December 6, 2017. Hundreds of people staged a protest outside the US consulate in Istanbul angrily denouncing the US president's move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Around 1,500 people gathered outside the well-protected compound close to the Bosphorus which was sealed off by police with barricades, an AFP correspondent said. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 06: Protesters wave flags and shout slogans outside the U.S. Consulate on December 6, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. People gathered to protest after U.S President Donald Trump declared recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Trump went ahead with the announcement despite warnings from Middle East leaders and the Pope condemning the decision. The announcement which breaks decades of U.S. policy threatens to bring further instability to the region. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
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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

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