Twal, a Palestinian citizen of Jordan, celebrated Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity. In his homily, he referred to the Arab Spring, imploring Arab leaders to have "wisdom, insight and a spirit of selflessness toward their countrymen" and praying for reconciliation in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and North Africa.
He also noted the Palestinian campaign to join the United Nations, and complained that the U.N. was "less than united" in its support for the now-stalled initiative. With peace talks at a standstill, the Palestinians are seeking membership as a state in the United Nations and recently gained admission to UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency.
The patriarch criticized the international community for pushing the Palestinians to "re-engage in a failed peace process" which has "left a bitter taste of broken promises and of mistrust."
The Palestinians have subtly tried to draw attention to their plight with this year's Christmas slogan, "Palestine celebrating hope," a veiled reference to U.N. recognition bid.
Late Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of Christian leaders that he is committed to reaching peace with Israel.
"I hope they will come back to their senses and understand that we are seekers of peace, not seekers of war or terrorism," said Abbas, a Muslim like most Palestinians. "The mosque, church and synagogue stand side by side in this Holy Land."