BETHLEHEM, West Bank – In a Christmas message, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has referred to Jesus as a "Palestinian" messenger of hope.
Palestinian officials said Abbas used the term in a historic context, applying to all those in the Holy Land at the time, regardless of religion.
Few scholars dispute that Jesus was raised as a Jew.
Abbas' emailed comments Monday appeared to be part of an effort to reach global public opinion and strengthen links between the Palestinian and Christian narratives.
Abbas said Jesus was a "Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions."
A majority of Palestinians including Abbas are Muslims, but he and predecessor Yasser Arafat have called for unity of Palestinian Christians and Muslims.
Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, is a Palestinian town in the West Bank.