Bethlehem Christmas festival canceled

NEW YORK -- "This year, Bethlehem will not be able to celebrate Christmas as planned and there will be no Christmas Festival," reads a statement from the Palestinian National Authority, which has had jurisdiction over the city since 1995.

The celebration, which was to have drawn thousands of tourists keen on visiting Jesus' birthplace, was cancelled because of continued violence in the region, the statement said.

Specifically, a spokeswoman from the Bethlehem 2000 Project, which is responsible for promoting tourism in Bethlehem through 2001, said it would be inappropriate to celebrate when more than "210 Palestinians have been killed and 6,000 wounded" during the current conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Christmas celebrations had called for performances by guest choirs from around the world, a concert in Manger Square and a Christmas Market.

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