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Jerusalem Locked down by Fiercest Snowstorm in Years

The hilltop city of Jerusalem was paralyzed on Friday by its fiercest snowstorm in years, with its mayor calling out the army to help stranded motorists.

"We are battling a storm of rare ferocity," Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement as snow in the Holy City piled up to around 37 centimeters (15 inches), while outlying areas had much deeper drifts.

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Obama Visits Nativity Church in Bethlehem

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday visited Bethlehem's Nativity Church built on the site where tradition says Jesus was born, at the end of a three-day trip to Israel and the West Bank.

The visit took place later than expected because of an unexpected sandstorm which forced the president to travel by motorcade from Jerusalem rather than by helicopter as planned.

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Bethlehem to Host First-Ever Marathon in April

The not-so-little town of Bethlehem is to host the West Bank's first-ever marathon next month in a race starting at the Nativity Church and taking in several refugee camps, organizers said Wednesday.

The brainchild of two Danish women runners, the Palestine Marathon will take place on April 21 and offer runners the choice of three distances: a full marathon of 42.2 kilometers (26 miles), a 21.1 km (13 mile) half marathon or a 10 kilometer (six mile) race.

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Israel Approves 1,200 Jerusalem Settler Homes

Israel's interior ministry has approved the building of 1,200 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement neighborhood of Gilo, the latest in a slew of such approvals, Israeli watchdog Peace Now said.

The approval, which came late on Monday night, follows Israeli committee approvals for thousands of units in neighborhoods across east Jerusalem and in the West Bank last week.

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Hundreds Pack Bethlehem Church for Christmas Mass

Hundreds of Christian faithful, defying lashing rains and wind, filled the ancient Bethlehem church that marks Jesus' traditional birthplace for Christmas Day Mass on Sunday, even as a blast in a Nigerian church shattered the holiday's message of peace on earth.

Worshippers, dressed in their holiday best and some in the traditional attire of foreign lands, rushed into the Church of the Nativity under the cover of umbrellas, leaving Manger Square, with its 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) Christmas tree, deserted. The sanctuary was packed, and the overflow crowd waited eagerly in an arched corridor for a chance to enter.

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Bethlehem Gears up for Christmas Celebrations Amid Regional Upheaval

Christians began flocking to Bethlehem early on Saturday to celebrate Christmas following a tumultuous year of political upheaval and change across the Arab world.

As day broke on this not-so-little-town which lies just a few miles south of Jerusalem, locals began gearing up to welcome thousands of pilgrims who come to see the spot where biblical tradition says Jesus was born to a young couple visiting from Nazareth.

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Nun Famous for Kissing Elvis Prays for Miracle

In the little town of Bethlehem, a cloistered nun whose luminous blue eyes entranced Elvis Presley in his first on-screen movie kiss is praying for a Christmas miracle.

Dolores Hart, who walked away from Hollywood stardom in 1963 to become a nun in rural Bethlehem, Conn., now finds herself back in the spotlight. But this time it's all about serving the King of Kings, not smooching the King of Rock and Roll.

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West Bank Christians Pray for Threatened Valley

A handful of Palestinian Christians stand on a ridge under grey skies at an open-air mass, praying for protection for the sweeping valley that descends from their feet.

For decades, the dwindling Christian community of Beit Jala and Bethlehem has joined its Muslim neighbors to work the land of the Cremisan Valley during the week, and picnic here with their families at the weekend.

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Palestinians Want Bethlehem on UN Heritage List

The Palestinians on Monday made a formal bid to have Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.

"We are very proud to announce that we have submitted the nomination file of Bethlehem: birthplace of Jesus -- Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route ... to the World Heritage Center," tourism minister Khulud Daibes told reporters.

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