“The Mayor of Bethlehem arrives in London today (Wednesday 9 November) to declare Bethlehem an open city and announce that his city is to issue a Bethlehem passport, open to anyone in the world.
“The initiative is designed to transcend the imprisonment of his city by a combination of the illegal wall and militarised fences, with only two gates to the outside world.
“The current situation is grim. The walls and fences that encircle Bethlehem have turned this 4000 year old city into a prison for its 160,000 citizens. The number of tourists visiting Bethlehem has dropped from nearly 92,000 in 2000 to a mere 7,249 in 2004. In the last five years 9.3 per cent of the Christian population of Bethlehem has emigrated. Restaurants, shops and commercial outlets have shrunk and Bethlehem’s economy is threatened.”
Yet another nearly hidden side of Israel’s ongoing occupation.