Abbas extends Christmas greeting to Christians worldwide

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extended Christmas greetings to local Christians as well as to other believers worldwide when he met with church leaders in Jerusalem on Dec. 18.

(REUTERS / Ammar Awad)Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. January 6, 2016.

During the meeting on Monday, Abbas wished the Christians a merry Christmas and expressed hope that "stability and safety prevail in all parts of the world." He also talked about U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and maintained that East Jerusalem was the capital of Palestine, WAFA relayed.

"The world and international law recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, and we will remain united in defending Jerusalem and the lands of Christian and Islamic endowments," said Abbas.

In addition, Abbas emphasized the importance of communicating with Jordan on issues concerning the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and other holy sites in Jerusalem. His stance on the issue drew praise from Patriarch Theopholos I, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, who invited Abbas to the Midnight Mass for the Eastern calendar.

On Dec. 19, Abbas went on an official visit to see Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. They discussed Trump's declaration on Jerusalem and the Palestinian leader expressed anger over the United Nations Security Council's failure to pass a resolution for the U.S to revoke the move, The Jewish Press reported.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley vetoed the resolution for America to rescind its declaration. Even though 14 out of the 15 member nations voted to have the resolution passed, the veto prevailed.

As of now, Israel's Foreign Ministry is trying to block the Palestinian Authority's renewed effort to convince the U.N. General Assembly to pass a measure that calls for the U.S. to revoke the recognition. However, the measure reportedly does not have any legal weight even if it is passed as the U.S. has the discretion to place its embassy anywhere and to recognize a place as a capital.