Bethlehem Mayor, Victor Batarsa, stated in an interview with the Globe newspaper, based in Joplin Missouri in the United States, that peace starts in Bethlehem, the city of Nativity and coexistence.Bethlehem and Joplin are sister cities. Visiting Joplin, Batarsa spoke during an event at the Central Christian Center, and was presented by the Joplin Area Ministerial Alliance.

Batarsa said that said that 40% of the 32.000 residents of Bethlehem are Christians, and 60% are Muslims.

He added that Bethlehem resembles co-existence between religions.
“It is a role model for existence between Muslims and Christians”, he said, “I would say Judaism too”, the Joplin Globe reported.

Batarsa also stated that the Wall around Bethlehem increased the level of unemployment in Bethlehem city to 29% as the city’s main income depends on Christian pilgrims and tourism.

Batarsa is accompanied by Bishara Awad, the head of Bethlehem Bible College. Awad said that the college now has 170 students, and that it has another branch in Nazareth.