JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Less than an hour after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinians protested by turning off the lights on the Christmas tree outside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
It was a timely reminder that while headlines focused on Islamist calls for uprisings and Trump’s references to Jewish historical ties, the president’s words also stirred deep feelings among the Palestinians’ small Christian community.
Coming out of the Sunday service in his Assyrian Catholic church in Jerusalem, Fredrick Hazo accused Trump of “dragging all the world into trouble”, and called on the U.S. leader to reverse his decision.
“We are united – Christians, Muslims, we are one,” said the 59-year-old Palestinian musician, standing in an alley in the heart of the Old City, surrounded by shops selling religious trinkets.
He was frustrated by the politics, but confident the delicate balance the three faiths kept in the holy city would prevail. “In this sacred place, God is protecting us all. We are guarded by his angels in Jerusalem,” Hazo added.
Christians make up around just one percent of the Palestinian population in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – though they punch above their weight in local and national politics.
Back in July, Hazo protested alongside Muslims against Israel’s installation of security scanners at the nearby al-Aqsa mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – after two Arab-Israeli gunmen shot dead two Israeli police officers at the site.