The Muslim mayor of the Israeli city of Nazareth, which has a large Arab population, has chose to cancel some Christmas events, blaming U.S. President Donald Trump for souring the holiday following his controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"Our identity and faith aren't up for debate", Mr. Salam said during a press conference Thursday, Newsweek reported. "The decision [by Donald Trump about Jerusalem] has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this year". During the holiday season, the city hosts a Christmas market among a number of other celebrations that attract large crowds from around the world.
Mayor of the Israeli city of Nazareth, Ali Salam [Angela Almeida Prado/Facebook] Known as "the Arab capital of Israel", Nazareth is made up mostly of Muslims and Christians Arabs.
The move is in protest to President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The imposing Basilica of the Annunciation in central Nazareth is built on a site which many Christian faithful believe was the childhood home of Jesus's mother, Mary.
Israel has long called for Jerusalem to be recognised as its capital after it established it as such - in name, at least - since it occupied the eastern part of the city after the Six Days War in 1967.
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Nazareth is traditionally thought to be where Jesus grew up. The status of Jerusalem is at the center of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians because the city is sacred to Judaism and Islam.
In response, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
The announcement to move the USA embassy to Jerusalem was, meanwhile, hailed by other groups, including 250 prominent Israeli rabbis who issued Trump the biblical blessing that God gave to Joshua. Palestinians maintain that Jerusalem will be the capital of their future state.
Israeli fighter jets also bombed Hamas targets in Gaza, officials said, after militants fired rockets from the region towards Israeli territory.
His decision sparked widespread violence in Israel 24 hours later in a "day of rage" over the move.