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As Bethlehem Observes Christmas, Trump's Jerusalem Shift Looms Large

Christian worshipers light candles at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, ahead of Christmas, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Dec. 17, 2017.

President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital looms large in Christmas festivities this year in the traditional birthplace of Jesus, biblical Bethlehem.

Some vendors and a leading hotelier in Bethlehem say Palestinian protests, triggered by what many here view as a provocative show of Trump's pro-Israel bias, have hurt their Christmas business.

Yet Bethlehem also offers a stage for a Palestinian rebuttal: banners proclaiming Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Palestine have been draped over facades on Manger Square as a backdrop for Christmas TV broadcasts to a global audience.

Mahmoud Salahat, who sells pomegranate juice on the square, says his main source of income — Palestinian citizens of Israel — have largely stayed away from Bethlehem during the past two weeks, apparently fearing trouble on the roads.