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Top Roman Catholic cleric in Holy Land celebrates Palestinian statehood on Christmas

  • A Catholic pilgrim looks at lit candles outside of the Grotto at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Thousands of Christian worshippers and tourists arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to mark Christmas at the site where many believe Jesus Christ was born. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    A Catholic pilgrim looks at lit candles outside of the Grotto at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Thousands of Christian worshippers and tourists arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to mark Christmas at the site where many believe Jesus Christ was born. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Christian worshippers from Nigeria pray in the Grotto of the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Thousands of Christian worshippers and tourists arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to mark Christmas at the site many believe Jesus Christ was born. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    Christian worshippers from Nigeria pray in the Grotto of the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Thousands of Christian worshippers and tourists arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to mark Christmas at the site many believe Jesus Christ was born. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Catholic pilgrim prays at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Thousands of Christian worshippers and tourists arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to mark Christmas at the site where many believe Jesus Christ was born. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    A Catholic pilgrim prays at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Thousands of Christian worshippers and tourists arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to mark Christmas at the site where many believe Jesus Christ was born. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)  (The Associated Press)

The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land has celebrated the United Nations' recent recognition of a Palestinian state in his annual pre-Christmas remarks.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal told followers at the patriarchate's headquarters in Jerusalem on Monday that they were celebrating "two occasions, the birth of Christ our Lord and the birth of the state of Palestine."

From Jerusalem, Twal set off in a procession for the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace.

There, he was reminded that life on the ground for Palestinians has not really changed since the statehood recognition last month.

He had to enter the biblical city through a massive metal gate in the barrier of towering concrete slabs Israel built between Jerusalem and Bethlehem during a wave of Palestinian attacks in the last decade.