Abbas says Jesus was a 'Palestinian'

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.

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