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Palestinian Government Plans to Restore Bethlehem Nativity Church

Palestinian Church

Oct. 25: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, fourth left, stands with Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos III, third left, as they inspect restoration works at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by many to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. (AP)

The Palestinian government is planning an ambitious restoration project for the ancient church that marks the traditional spot where Jesus was born.

Ziad Bandak, an official working on the restoration, says renovation of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity is expected to take several years and cost millions of dollars.

Bandak said Monday this is the first comprehensive restoration project on the church since it was completed in the fourth century.

The fortress-like church was built over the grotto where tradition holds Jesus was born.

Bethlehem was once the site of frequent battles between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants. But a drop in violence in recent years has boosted tourism to the town.