BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK AP – In a Christmas message Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Jesus a “Palestinian” messenger of hope.
Palestinian officials said Abbas used the term in a historic context, applying to all those in the Holy Land at the time Jesus lived, regardless of religion. Few scholars dispute that Jesus was raised as a Jew.
Abbas’ emailed comments appeared to be part of an effort to reach global public opinion and strengthen links between the Palestinian and Christian narratives. Abbas said Jesus was a “Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions.”
A majority of Palestinians, including Abbas, are Muslims, but he and predecessor Yasser Arafat have called for unity of Palestinian Christians and Muslims.