The Palestinian Authority plans to renovate the 1,500-year-old Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus. The most urgent repair is on the leaking wooden roof that has ruined many of the church’s priceless mosaics and paintings. There also is a danger that the rotting beams could fall on tourists below.

The roof has not undergone major repairs in more than 500 years because of a feud among the three Christian denominations that control the church – the Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenians. But in the spirit of goodwill for Christmas, they put their differences aside.

Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes said, “The Palestinian Authority has taken the lead. Our president has issued a decree to restore the roof and to prepare for the restoration of the church on behalf of the three churches and in coordination with the three churches, which obviously cannot do it on their own.”

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