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Trump's Palestinian pilgrimage brings hope, concern

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When the Israeli army finally withdrew from major Palestinian cities in fulfillment of the Oslo Accord, then-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat paid close attention to the city of Bethlehem.

Realizing the importance of the birthplace of Christianity, Arafat made it a tradition to attend the annual Christmas Eve Mass in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, which is broadcast live throughout the world. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has attended Mass on the evening of Dec. 24 every single year since he became president.

The presence of Abbas in Bethlehem during the Christmas season has also turned into a political opportunity, with Abbas meeting local figures and following up on issues of interest to the people of Bethlehem and the region.

Not only has Bethlehem been a focus of attention for the Palestinian political leadership, but the city has also produced well-known public figures from its local government. Elias Freij, the mayor from 1972-1997 who died in 1998, used his elected position to advance his own career as well as........

© Al Monitor