Dec. 24 - West Bank residents prepare for festivities in Bethlehem, while some Gazan Christian pilgrims make their way there without all of their family. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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Palestinians prepare for Christmas in Bethlehem.
With a twist - earlier this year the United Nations General Assembly granted de facto statehood to Palestine.
A move welcomed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, who'll lead seasonal celebrations in Bethlehem.
(SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) FOUAD TWAL, JERUSALEM'S LATIN PATRIARCH, SAYING:
"Our happiness increases because while we are celebrating Jesus' birthplace, we also celebrate the birth of the Palestinian state. This state needs men and leaders, good will and unity."
But amid heightened security, tourists are flocking to the Holy Land sites.
Meanwhile, some 500 Gazan Christian pilgrims are heading to the West Bank and Israel to spend Christmas with their family
Not all are able - Israel is denying entry and transit permits to men between 16 and 35.
At least 50,000 pilgims have already gathered in Bethlehem to pray for peace at the birthplace of Jesus.
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