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CNN Today

CNN 20: Power Shifts in Bethlehem, December 21, 1995

Aired December 21, 2000 - 1:48 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Fireworks and the church bells in Manger Square signalled the end of the 28 years of Israeli military occupation. Pictures of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat quickly sprang up around the historic city, where Jesus was born.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Since 1967, the Israeli's have occupied the overwhelmingly Arab Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Now that being the case, the Palestinians very much wanted self- determination there, self-control.

The transfer date was part of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. But what made it so fascinating was that it was winter, it was close to Christmas. And when the transfer took place, it was not long afterwards of course that the Palestinians, and there are many Palestinian Christians, could celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, under their control, and they had removed what they had seen as a foreign occupying power.

There was, of course, great jubilation among the Palestinians when the Israeli military occupying force withdrew from Bethlehem. And I must say, it was quite a celebration for the Israelis as well. With the Israelis riding out of town and the Palestinian Authority police shaking their hands, helping them out of town, but all be it in a collegial and almost a fraternal way.

And then of course came the celebration, Yasser Arafat's first Christmas in Bethlehem for the Palestinian Authority, controlled the city.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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