Speaker Yuli Edelstein denied the request of a Christian lawmaker to display a Christmas tree at the Knesset, saying that doing so would be inappropriate.
Edelstein suggested that Hanna Swaid, of the Israeli-Arab Hadash party, place a Christmas tree in his office or in the party’s faction room.
“I do not believe it appropriate to order the erection of a Christmas tree as you requested,” Edelstein wrote in a statement released Sunday.
Swaid told Israeli media that he was disappointed with the result of his request. “The public space does not only belong to the Jewish majority. It should show other groups,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
Swaid sent a letter to the speaker at the end of last week requesting that he place a Christmas tree at the entrance to the Knesset or in a “visible place.” He said it would be “a gesture toward Christian members of Knesset and citizens of Israel, and a symbol of [Israel’s] ties to the Christian world.”
Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres visited the Franciscan Catholic Church in Ramla in honor of Christmas on Sunday. He was welcomed by children decked out in Santa hats singing Christmas songs in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
“It is a special occasion for us to be able to celebrate Christmas all together—we all pray to the same Lord and we all pray for the same thing—for the Lord to provide peace to us all and in particular that the young girls and boys will now know anymore wars and hatred,” Peres said.