Bethlehem Ready for Christmas Pilgrims


The procession to the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by many to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is seen in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, Dec. 24, 2007. (AP)

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) - Jesus' traditional birthplace is
decorated with Christmas lights and a three-story-tall Christmas

An estimated 30,000 tourists and Christian pilgrims are expected
to flock to Bethlehem's Manger Square on Christmas Eve, offering
encouragement to merchants in the Palestinian town.

Bethlehem is separated from nearby Jerusalem by a security barrier that Israel erected to block terrorist attacks, but both sides seem anxious to welcome visitors and ease their passage.

Bethlehem's mayor says he hopes "the star that led the three wise men to Bethlehem will lead the great powers and brighten their way toward genuine peace."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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