Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as virus rules keep crowds away

Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as virus rules keep crowds away
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Christmas tree is lit outside the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP)
Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as virus rules keep crowds away
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Christmas tree is seen at Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 5, 2020. (Reuters)
Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as virus rules keep crowds away
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Christmas tree is seen at Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 5, 2020. Picture taken with a drone. (Reuters)
Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as virus rules keep crowds away
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Palestinian Christians attend the lighting of a Christmas tree outside the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 05 December 2020

Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as virus rules keep crowds away

Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as virus rules keep crowds away
  • Locals and pilgrims traditionally gather each year for the lighting of the tree in Manger Square
  • But this year, only a small crowd of journalists was present due to coronavirus restrictions

BETHLEHEM: Bethlehem lit up its Christmas tree on Saturday evening but without the usual crowds, as novel coronavirus restrictions put a damper on the start of Christmas festivities in the holy city.
Palestinian authorities last week announced measures, including a night-time curfew, across the Israeli-occupied West Bank for 14 days to fight a “worrying spread” of the virus.
Locals and pilgrims traditionally gather each year for the lighting of the tree in Manger Square, near the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.
But this year, only a small crowd of journalists was present due to coronavirus restrictions, an AFP photographer said.
Carmen Ghattas, director of public relations at the Bethlehem municipality, told AFP that Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh had lit up the tree remotely from his office in Ramallah.
The West Bank, with a Palestinian population of more than 2.8 million, has officially recorded 71,703 coronavirus infections, including 678 deaths.
Israel has occupied the territory since 1967.


UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships

UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships
Updated 19 January 2021

UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships

UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships
  • The two ministers also discussed the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Both sides discussed ways of strengthening ties in multiple sectors, including in parliamentary areasboth sides discussed ways of strengthening ties in multiple sectors, including in parliamentary areas

DUBAI: The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs discussed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and ways of ensuring security and stability in the region with his Cypriot counterpart on Monday,.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan reviewed the prospects of advancing relations with Cyprus in a meeting in Abu Dhabi with Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
The two ministers also discussed the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of enhancing international cooperation to ensure fair and equitable access to the vaccine for every country in the world.
Christodoulides praised the UAE’s significant overall efforts to counter the coronavirus pandemic and the efficiency of its adopted measures in mitigating the economic and social effects of the crisis.
During his visit to the UAE, the Cypriot minister also met with the Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), Saqr Ghobash, accompanied with the Ambassador of Cyprus to the UAE, Yannis Michaelides.
During the meeting, both sides discussed ways of strengthening ties in multiple sectors, including in parliamentary areas.
Ghobash said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on their parliamentary cooperation is required, in addition to reinforcing the role of joint parliamentary friendship committees.
A parliamentary friendship committee between the two countries will hold a meeting in the first quarter of 2021, Ghobash said, and stressed the importance of improving their coordination during global parliamentary events.
Christodoulides said that the UAE was a leading regional and international stature, noting that it is a strategic partner of his country.
He also conveyed the invitation of the President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus to Ghobash to visit Cyprus as head of a parliamentary delegation, to discuss ways of reinforcing their parliamentary ties.