JERUSALEM, Israel – Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, says it will tone down its Christmas celebrations this year in protest against President Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
"Our message is we love Jerusalem, we'll never abandon you under any circumstances," Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam said in a press conference, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.
Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world rejected President Trump's declaration earlier this month that the US was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
According to the Post, Salam called Trump "wretched" and said he had "stabbed" the Palestinians.
Initial reports following the mayor's press conference said the Christmas Market in Nazareth was cancelled. But a corrected statement reportedly said the cancellation was only for "artistic performances on stages." It said that outdoor stalls would be open and the Christmas tree lighting and parade would take place.
Nazareth is Israel's largest Arab city, with a population of more than 75,000. Most of the residents are Arab citizens of Israel – 69 percent are Muslim and nearly 31 percent Christian. The mayor is Muslim.
The giant Basilica of the Annunciation is built on the place where many believe Jesus' mother Mary's house stood and where the angel visited her and told her she would bear the Messiah. Thus the city is one of the main focal points of Christmas in Israel.
"Christmas season in Nazareth is the season of good and blessing and we are completely vigilant that commercial interests won't be damaged," the corrected statement said.
Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier was moderately wounded in a stabbing attack on Friday as Palestinian rioters clashed with Israeli troops at West Bank flash points and along the Gaza border for the second Friday in a row.
Since Trump's declaration on December 6, terrorists have launched 12 rockets from the Gaza Strip – eight fell in Israel and four others were intercepted, the IDF said on Friday.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya demanded that the Islamic world "make every Friday a day of anger and revolution in every capital and city" until they "bring down Trump's decision."
He also called on the Pope, churches and "our Christian brothers to devote their Sunday prayers to Jerusalem."