The Catholic church’s top official in Jerusalem on Wednesday criticized Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of the city as the Zionist entity’s capital, saying it damaged Christmas celebrations and led to hundreds cancelling trips.
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said “dozens” of groups had pulled out of planned visits after being scared off by the announcement and subsequent clashes.
He added that the heads of the Christian churches in Jerusalem would find it difficult to accept an official request by US Vice President Mike Pence to visit the city’s holy Christian sites in January, calling for him to “listen more” to other Christians.
“Of course this created a tension around Jerusalem and this diverted attention from Christmas,” Pizzaballa said of Trump’s December 6 decision.
“After this there are some tensions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem also. This scared many people, so we’ve had less people than expected.”
He stressed, though, that they would continue with planned Christmas celebrations.
Trump’s recognition of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), breaking with decades of US policy on one of the most complicated issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been met with near-daily protests across the Palestinian territories.