Palestinian protesters set fire to placards of US vice president in Bethlehem
Reuters, , Sunday 17 Dec 2017


A small group of Palestinian protesters on Sunday set fire to placards printed with images of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt outside Jesus's traditional birthplace, days before their arrival in the region.

With Bethlehem's illuminated Christmas tree behind them, about 30 people stood quietly holding candles at Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity, the site Christians believe marks Jesus's birthplace, before setting the placards alight.

"Bethlehem welcomes the messengers of peace, not the messengers of war", read some placards with pictures of Pence and Greenblatt as they went up in flames.

The U.S. vice president is due in the region later this week but the Palestinians have said he is not welcome and President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet him during his visit, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said last week, a move the White House described as "unfortunate".

Greenblatt, who has held several rounds of discussions with Israeli and Palestinian officials during the past few months in an effort to restart peace talks that have been frozen since 2014, is also due to arrive this week.

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