World View: Bethlehem Celebrates the Second of Its Three Christmases


This morning’s key headlines from

  • Bethlehem celebrates the second of its three Christmases
  • Hamas blasts Abbas’s plan to re-submit statehood resolution to the Security Council
  • US weighs cutting aid to Palestinians after ICC application

Bethlehem celebrates the second of its three Christmases

Members of the marching band of the Arab Orthodox Scouts of Beit Sahour march through Manger Square in Bethlehem.
Members of the marching band of the Arab Orthodox Scouts of Beit Sahour march through Manger Square in Bethlehem.

It’s Christmas in Bethlehem today (Wednesday). Bethlehem is unique in that it celebrates Christmas three times each year:

  • Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas on December 25.
  • Most Orthodox Churches, including the Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, Russian Orthodox, Coptic and Syrian, celebrate Christmas on January 7, thanks to a switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1576.
  • The Armenian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem celebrates Christmas on January 19, due to another calendar change.

About 50% of the Palestinian Arab Christian community across Israel and the Palestinian territories belong to the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, and celebrate Christmas on January 7. Jerusalem Post and Middle East Monitor

Hamas blasts Abbas’s plan to re-submit statehood resolution to the Security Council

It’s been a week since Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas suffered a humiliating defeat in the U.N. Security Council, when it rejected, without even requiring a U.S. veto, Abbas’s resolution that would require Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories to pre-1967 borders by 2017.

Following the rejection, Abbas signed the documents to apply on behalf of the State of Palestine to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), in order to bring war crimes charges against Israeli officials. Israel retaliated by withholding $175 million in tax collections from the PA.

According to one theory, this was all part of a larger plan. This theory suggests that Abbas knew that the Security Council vote would be rejected (which is certainly true), and that he wanted an excuse to join the ICC. The purpose is to shape the narrative of conflict, changing it from the “peace process” to “war crimes.” Joining the ICC means that Israeli soldiers and commanders could be arrested and tried for war crimes when they travel abroad.

As of January 1, the makeup of the Security Council has changed, with Angola, Malaysia and Venezuela replacing Rwanda, South Korea and Argentina as non-permanent members. Abbas has said that he plans to re-submit the resolution, expecting that with the new membership he would get the required nine votes for passage. However, there would still be a U.S. veto in that case.

However, Hamas is completely opposed to any submission to the Security Council, because a successful resolution would “legitimize Israeli occupation.” According to Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar:

This Palestinian resolution is catastrophic and has no future on the land of Palestine. The future belongs to the resistance. We will continue to work to liberate all the land and achieve the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Hamas will not accept anything less than all the lands that were occupied in 1948.

Once again, Abbas is trying to calm the waters by seeking a solution that might avoid all-out war between Palestinians and Israelis. As I’ve written many times, Abbas was born in 1935, and survived the horrific 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Like most survivors of generational crisis wars, Abbas has literally devoted his life to doing everything possible to prevent that horrific kind of war from occurring again. As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that he will not succeed in preventing that horrific war, though he may continue to postpone it.

In fact, the man that most Palestinians consider the most likely successor to 80-year-old Abbas is the fiery 53-year-old Mohammed Dahlan, who announced on Saturday that he would form a united front in opposition to Abbas. According to Dahlan:

Most of the Palestinian people oppose the proposal that [Abbas] put forward [at the Security Council]. This was a hasty and reckless decision that wasn’t made with the unified consensus of the Palestinians. The proposal was changed a number of times without consultation of the decision makers. This was a decision that constitutes a new disaster for relations with Israel which will bring shame and destruction of the Palestinian issue.

Bloomberg and Palestine Chronicle and Times of Israel

US weight cutting aid to Palestinians after ICC application

The Obama administration said Monday it was reviewing its annual $440 million aid package to the Palestinians because of their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. Under American law, any Palestinian case against Israel at the court would trigger an immediate cutoff of U.S. financial support. Membership itself doesn’t automatically incur U.S. punishment. AP

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bethlehem, Palestinian territories, Christmas, Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, International Criminal Court, ICC, Security Council, Mohammed Dahlan, Hamas, Mahmoud Zahar
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