Israel is conducting a last-ditch diplomatic effort to prevent the Palestinian Authority from officially registering the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as a World Heritage Site belonging to the country of "Palestine."
Later this month, the UN's World Heritage Committee will meet in Russia to debate inclusion of several sites from around the world. The committee confirmed that the Church of the Nativity is one of sites to be discussed.
The Palestinian effort to label Jesus' birthplace as being part of "Palestine" was made possible by last year's decision by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to officially recognize the fictional state.
Israeli officials told local media that the Church of the Nativity is indeed a World Heritage Site, but that listing it under "Palestine" is both erroneous and harmful to the peace process.
The Palestinian Authority has for years been trying to paint Jesus as one of their national heroes and further deny both his Jewishness and affiliation with Israel.
Yasser Arafat used to openly declare Jesus to be a Palestinian as he kicked off Christmas from Bethlehem every year. His successors, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and prime minister Salam Fayyad, have continued the trend.
"Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the Palestinian identity of Jesus Christ," declared Fayyad as he flipped the switch lighting a 50-foot Christmas tree in Bethlehem's Manger Square last December.
The lie has fully permeated Arab society in the region.
In a December 3, 2010 interview with Palestinian Authority TV, Samih Ghanadreh from Nazareth was asked about his new book "Christianity and its Connection to Islam." Ghanadreh told the host that he remembers fondly how Arafat would label Jesus as "the first Palestinian Shahid (martyr)," to which the host matter-of-factly responded, "Jesus was a Palestinian; no one denies that."