Published October 25, 2010
| Associated Press
BETHLEHEM, West Bank – 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.