In Bethlehem, glimmers of an economic revival

Ikaika M Hussey

In the land where Christmas was born, an economic revival is afoot. "But we are still under occupation," said Victor Batarseh, mayor of Bethlehem, according to the New York Times.

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials report economic growth for the occupied areas of 4 to 5 percent and a drop in the unemployment rate of at least three percentage points. The Israelis report that in 2008, wages here are up more than 20 percent and trade by 35 percent. The improved climate has nearly doubled the number of tourists in Bethlehem and increased them by half in Jericho.