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Muslim Mayor of Nazareth Now Says Christmas Will Go Ahead Despite Trump's Jerusalem Move

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A youth walks past graffiti on a street in Nazareth, northern Israel October 12, 2015. |

The Muslim mayor of the Israeli city of Nazareth has now said that Christmas celebrations will go ahead as scheduled despite reports last week that they would be limited, due to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision on Jerusalem.

"I don't know why people thought that there would be cuts to the celebrations. Everything, except for three singers who will not be coming, will be held as normal. We have already welcomed 60,000 people to the city today," Mayor Ali Salam told Reuters on Saturday.

Last week it was reported that Salam, like many other Islamic political and religious leaders, was so upset with Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel that he canceled the town's Christmas market and festival.

Nazareth holds a significant place for Christians, as that is where the Bible says Jesus Christ grew up in.

As reported by the Jerusalem Post, Salam recognizes that Nazareth has "commercial interests," given that it welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors during the Christmas season.

Still, he called Trump's move "wretched," adding that he had "stabbed" Palestinians, who view East Jerusalem as part of their future capital.

Salam added that people of all faiths are welcome to the city.

"[I] invite all the residents of the State of Israel — the Jews, Muslims and Christians — to come to the city of Nazareth and take part in the Christmas celebrations," the mayor declared, according to the Times of Israel.

"Nazareth is the city of peace and brotherhood between religions and nations, and there is nothing like the spirit of the holiday and the shared experience to prove it."

The Nazareth Municipality further explained that only selected artistic performances on stage will be canceled, but the outdoor stalls of the Christmas market will remain open.

The lighting of the Christmas tree is also on the list of scheduled events, as was the Christmas parade that will be held on Dec. 23.

"Christmas season in Nazareth is the season of good and blessing and we are completely vigilant that commercial interests won't be damaged," Nazareth officials said.

Trump announced early this month that he decided to begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as part of recognizing historical reality.

A bi-partisan U.S. Senate resolution in June had previously said that "Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump's decision, calling it "an important step towards peace."

Netanyahu added that the Jewish people will be "forever grateful" to the U.S. for recognizing Jerusalem.

"It's been the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years. Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years," he said.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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