Bethlehem Mayor, Victor Batarsa, said on Monday that Bethlehem, the
birthplace of Jesus Christ, is facing the most difficult economic,
political and touristic conditions as a result of the continuous and
illegal practices of the Israeli occupation against the city and the
surrounding area.

During a press conference on Monday, Batarsa stated that the Wall forced dozens of families to leave their houses, and isolated the residents from their orchards, which led to the immigration of hundreds of families.

Batarsa stated that the Wall isolated at least 700 Dunams of farmlands and orchards from their owners in Bethlehem, in addition to the Israeli annexation of 15% of the lands especially in the northern part of the city.

These procedures negatively affected several aspects of the Palestinian society as hundreds of residents became unable to reach their lands in addition to the serious set-back of the touristic sector of the holy city, especially sine the tourists remain in Jerusalem and its hotels, and only a few make it to Bethlehem.   
Batarsa also said that unemployment rates arrived to 65%, and that most of the residents are now below the poverty line as thousands of workers are unable to reach their works in Jerusalem and Israel.

The Wall isolated students from their schools and universities, isolated employees and patients from the hospitals.

Batarsa addressed the world saying that in spite of all of the Israeli procedures and illegal practices, the Palestinian people have hope in a better future, and are capable of sending a message of tolerance, a message of Christmas to the whole world.

Batarsa also said that his message this year addresses the nations of this earth and appeals them not to forget Bethlehem.

“Give us the care and support we deserve”, he said, “Participate in breaking the unjust siege, visit Bethlehem, the holy city and live among the welcoming people”.

Legislators Fuad Kokaly, Issa Qaraqe', Mohamad Khalil Al Lahham, Fayiz Al Saqqa and Khalid Tafish in addition to several members of Bethlehem Municipality Council and the representative of Bethlehem Police attended the conference.

Bethlehem will light its Christmas tree in an official ceremony at the Manger Square on December 15, and will officially launch Christmas celebrations.