Conditions in Bethlehem are a bit raw, with breezy and rainy conditions after nightfall, but the tens of thousands of tourists and Christmas pilgrims are still helping to bring warm holiday cheer to the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Thousands of Christians from around the world, beating drums and holding green palm fronds, marked Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, celebrating the time when, according to the New Testament, Jesus Christ arrived in the city two millennia ago.
The Israeli government has imposed a de facto freeze on new Jewish construction in Jerusalem's disputed eastern sector, municipal officials said Monday. The decision was made despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public insistence that building would not be stopped in the face of U.S. pressure.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday that Israel would not restrict construction in east Jerusalem, a step the U.S. has requested - sticking to a tough position hours before he sets off on his first trip to Washington since a diplomatic row erupted between the two allies.