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Christmas message from President Abbas
Published Wednesday 19/12/2012 (updated) 21/12/2012 11:50
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Bethlehem's Christmas tree is lit in Manger Square, Dec. 15, 2012.
(MaanImages/George Hale)
If you take a look around Bethlehem, one is bound to be shocked by the choking reality this city has been forced to endure. Surrounded by 22 Israeli settlements and extremist settlers; its land shrunk to a mere 13 percent of its original size because of the encroaching reality of Israeli unilateralism.

For first time in 2000 years of Christianity in our homeland, the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem have been completely separated by Israeli settlements and racist walls and checkpoints.

Bethlehem’s landscape, heritage and social fabric are besiege and under threat. Yet, Bethlehem shall remain, as it has been for over 2000 years, a city that emanates hope and peace to humanity. Because Bethlehem’s identity as the birthplace of Christ is not just a matter of history and faith; it is an identity and heritage Palestine is proud to have.

We celebrate Bethlehem, a city where world heritage sites abound and where the will to live in pride and dignity has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Our daily reality under a brutal occupation tests our faith in humanity every day. But we overcome, always. That is why Bethlehem is a success story that Palestine is deeply proud of. For despite the apartheid regime of the colonial wall, illegal settlements, and oppression, the citizens of Bethlehem continue to persevere.

In Bethlehem, we resist oppression with love, we defy oppression with pride; we build the institutions of our state and develop our infrastructure despite the occupation’s machinery of destruction.

With hope and unshakable faith in our rights to national freedom and prosperity, we unmask the ugliness of racism and humiliation through life, prayers, and art.

Perhaps there is no brighter example to the power of hope and faith than that of the non-violent mobilization of Beit Jala residents, who continue to resist Israel’s campaign of land confiscation and wall construction in their town, which now threatens the Cremisan area.

Every Friday afternoon they conduct prayers amidst the same olive trees that Israel plans to confiscate to build the illegal wall; trees that have been harvested for centuries by 58 Palestinian Christian families. And every Friday, the number of people from across Palestine and beyond attending this prayer grows, their message of hope and strength resonating beyond the confines of Israel’s wall regime. I call upon all of you, to listen to their prayers and help stop an additional impending injustice.

This year will be remembered as the year that Palestine was recognized as a State with overwhelming support. We are presenting the world with a moment of truth: our continuing bid for freedom and for full UN membership is an opportunity for the international community to do right by Palestine and grant it its long overdue right to a future of freedom and prosperity. The world has long pledged support for the two-state solution. We went to the world, represented by the UN, to translate this pledge into a reality.

With hope, we have preserved our homeland and rights from crushing defeat by the might of a military occupation that denies us our most basic rights. With your support, we can save the two-state solution and build for a better future, where hope can finally bloom into prosperity – not just preserve a nation’s identity.

Here, I would like to thank the 133 countries that took the courageous step of recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. To them I say, you have stood on the right side of history, by taking a step that vindicates justice and protects peace. We call upon the rest of the world to follow suit and bring peace close to realization.

Ladies and gentlemen, Christians from all over the world and distinguished pilgrims visiting our country. When you enter Bethlehem you either through the wall or Israeli military checkpoint.

Those who have lived the Bethlehem experience have been welcomed, as always, by the hospitality of our people. Many of you have supported this community through your invaluable assistance and cooperation. And because we value your investment in Bethlehem’s future, we call on you all to invest in peace and take the necessary courageous political action; with your help, we can ensure that next Christmas, we can be free from the bitterness of a life shackled by injustice and oppression.

For next Christmas, Palestine wishes to experience the timeless message of love, justice, and peace that the Prince of Peace brought to Palestine and humanity more than 2000 years ago, not just hope for its realization.
1 ) shirley S / australia
19/12/2012 14:45
this is atrue message but PA must also do its utmost to support this new state and its people by a political JIHAD encompassing all diplomatic tools and international law at its disposal JOIN EVERY UN BODY GENEVA CONVENTIONS GAIN CONTROL OF SEA AND AIR AND RECOURCES OFF COASTTHE WALL IS DEEMED ILLEGAL THE UN GA AGAIN REITERATED THE WALL ILLEGAL IT IS NOT FOR ISREALS SECURITY START TO GET RID OF IT BDS MUST ATTACK THESE SETTLEMENTS

2 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
19/12/2012 21:26
Very well said, Mr. President ... So at this time of year allow me to correct you and say 138 nations (not 133) voted for your U.N. upgrade to Non-member Observer Nation status. Allow me to also sincerely wish you and the Christian Palestinians (all Palestinians worldwide, really) the best of peace, happiness and prosperity and hasten the day when all of you will be united in your nation, Jordan/Palestine, free from us and all this conflict permanently, forever and for good. Insha'All_h.

3 ) Giacomo / USA
19/12/2012 21:32
If for once you are sincere in your desire for peace, let's begin with peace between Palestinian factions. A month ago you stated that Palestinian political and administrative prisoners held by the PA would be released "within days'. You also assured those who voted for upgraded UN status that you would return immediately to the negotiating table. More empty promises of peace to Palestinians and Israelis. If you can achieve unity, negotiate peace. Everything else is just rhetoric

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
19/12/2012 22:21
I take it the housing announcements are Israel's Christmas message.

5 ) Colin Wright / USA
20/12/2012 06:07
To Yehuda #2 'when all of you will be united in your nation, Jordan/Palestine, free from us and all this conflict permanently...' ...permanently -- or until you get around to deciding you're entitled to some of Jordan as well. You don't seriously think Israel could exist in peace, do you?

6 ) Nizar / Tanzania
20/12/2012 08:34
Yehuda Solomon stop bluffing yourself about grand Israel. First tell us where is the official and legal borders of Israel.

7 ) Mel / USA
20/12/2012 17:18
Bravo Mr.Abbas! In essence,a good Christmas message.As an American secular-Christian but very spiritual pluralist,I wish all Palestinians a beloved Christmas,Salam,& Eid Mubarak!! To ALL Jews who seek something MORE than regressive Zionist extremism & who yearn to save Israel from the "shackles" & shame of Zionism(Judaic or Christian),I wish you merry Christmas &Shalom.

To Zionism? Screw you!

8 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
20/12/2012 21:34
@ 5), Absolutely, positively, 100% yes. We have no ulterior motives or plans for expanding Israel north into Lebanon, east across the Jordan River or southwest (again) into the Sinai Peninsula. @ 6), GOOD request. First, I DON'T bluff. Second, our All_h-designated borders are described in our holy Torah. If we would strictly follow and demand them we would be entitled to more land into Lebanon (and possibly into Syria, as well). There are also interpretations to also actually (cont.)

9 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
20/12/2012 21:45
take land east of the Jordan River. (When we entered Canaan with Joshua we entered from east of the Jordan River. There was a pledge given by a couple of Israelite tribes during the time of Moses--whom All_h banned from entering Canaan--to remain united with the other tribes in conquering all the land if these tribes could have their portions of land EAST of the Jordan River. Moses agreed and these couple tribes fulfilled their pledge.) Nonetheless, we are VERY aware of present-day (cont.)

10 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
20/12/2012 21:57
practical realities and obligations. We have peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan/Palestine which we FULLY intend to uphold. We have NO intentions of breaking them to acquire more land. We understand their land is THEIR land, period. We also understand Lebanon's and Syria's land is their land and have NO ulterior designs on their lands, either (but yes, the Golan Heights we've annexed and that WILL remain). Our (what we believe to be) official and legal borders will (eventually) be (cont.)

11 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
20/12/2012 22:15
with Lebanon and Syria on the north and northeast, Jordan/Palestine (on the eastern side of the Jordan River) and Egypt on the south and southwest. Gaza will also be eventually annexed (it was Big Mistake to leave it, but that, unfortunately, happened). @ 7), I actually LIKE your posts here "personally" and on behalf of us I accept and thank you for your greetings. You can always wish us "Peace" but just say "Happy Hanukkah" for this time of year. I also wish you and your family The Best.

12 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/12/2012 04:00
To Yehuda #8 ' Absolutely, positively, 100% yes. We have no ulterior motives or plans for expanding Israel north into Lebanon, east across the Jordan River or southwest (again) into the Sinai Peninsula. ' I'll grant that YOU don't. However, you are not Israel -- nor is Israel subject to conscious commitments. Like any collective, she is driven by involuntary, unconscious compulsions -- and in this case, that means she will always seek to conquer, or at least to fight.
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