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Pope Gets Bethlehem Passport

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  • World View
    POPE BENEDICT – FIRST NEW CITIZEN OF BETHLEHEM 3 December 2005 Friends of Sabeel—North America Voice of the Palestinian Christians www.openbethlehem.org
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2005
      3 December 2005
      Friends of Sabeel—North America
      Voice of the Palestinian Christians

      His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI accepted a Bethlehem passport from the
      Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today (Saturday 3rd December). His
      Holiness becomes the first new citizen of Bethlehem following the
      launch of `Open Bethlehem', an international campaign to save the city.

      Bethlehem faces a state of emergency following the completion of an 8
      metre high illegal cement wall at the entrance to the city that
      separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem and other Palestinian towns. With
      the Israeli wall and other closures, including militarised fences and
      illegal Jewish settlements, Bethlehem has been reduced to its urban
      core: a modern-day ghetto town.

      In issuing a passport, Bethlehem is granting citizenship to those who
      "uphold the values of a just and open society (and) remain a true
      friend of Bethlehem, through its imprisonment", according to the
      passport's citation.

      Leila Sansour- the chief executive of Open Bethlehem is currently in
      London. She says: "We are appealing to the Pope as well as all
      citizens of the world to help us uphold the message that was born in
      our city. Bethlehem- a name that resonates with millions of people
      around the world with a message of peace and hope for mankind is today
      an open-air prison. Over 400 entire Christian families have emigrated
      from the city in the last four years. We cannot allow the depopulation
      of Bethlehem and the erosion of a 2000 year-old heritage that anchors
      Christianity in the Middle East".

      The Palestinian delegation included the Palestinian Minister of
      Tourism Ziad Al Bandak, a native of Bethlehem, who stressed that new
      developments on the ground are damaging to an already fragile tourist
      industry as the critical Christmas season approaches.


      Notes for editors:

      • Open Bethlehem was launched by the Mayor of Bethlehem on 9
      November, declaring Bethlehem an open city and announcing the issue of
      a Bethlehem passport.
      • Open Bethlehem is a city initiative that aims to promote
      Bethlehem as a prime destination for tourists, bold initiatives and
      investment. The core of its message is that Bethlehem is a city of
      openness and diversity, with a centuries-old tradition of welcoming
      travellers, refugees and pilgrims from across the world.

      For more information and photographs please contact:

      Peter Bourne Washington, 202-462-7266

      London Office:
      Patrick Orr: (44) 207 2225479 M: (44) 7909534430
      Charlotte Carson: (44)7768305897 M.
      Bethlehem Office:
      Carol Dabdoub T. (972) 2 2741241 ext. 2470 M. (972) 545439841



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