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Elias Freij

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NEWS
March 31, 1998
Elias Freij, 80, who was mayor of Bethlehem for 25 years. Until his retirement last year, Freij had emerged annually into world prominence as caretaker of Jesus' birthplace and host to a yearly Christmas Eve party outside the Church of the Nativity. A standard-bearer for Palestinian moderation, Freij was named the first Palestinian minister of tourism when Yasser Arafat set up an autonomous Palestinian government in 1994.
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NEWS
March 31, 1998
Elias Freij, 80, who was mayor of Bethlehem for 25 years. Until his retirement last year, Freij had emerged annually into world prominence as caretaker of Jesus' birthplace and host to a yearly Christmas Eve party outside the Church of the Nativity. A standard-bearer for Palestinian moderation, Freij was named the first Palestinian minister of tourism when Yasser Arafat set up an autonomous Palestinian government in 1994.
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NEWS
May 21, 1997 | From Times Wire Reports
Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij, who at 80 is among the Palestinians' most enduring politicians, announced his resignation after 25 years in office, saying he wants to write his memoirs and spend more time with his 20 grandchildren. Freij has been hospitalized several times for heart problems, but he said his health is good and his resignation is unrelated. Freij, a Greek Orthodox Christian, has also resigned his post as tourism minister in the Palestinian Authority.
NEWS
May 21, 1997 | From Times Wire Reports
Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij, who at 80 is among the Palestinians' most enduring politicians, announced his resignation after 25 years in office, saying he wants to write his memoirs and spend more time with his 20 grandchildren. Freij has been hospitalized several times for heart problems, but he said his health is good and his resignation is unrelated. Freij, a Greek Orthodox Christian, has also resigned his post as tourism minister in the Palestinian Authority.
NEWS
January 8, 1989 | DANIEL WILLIAMS, Times Staff Writer
Mayor Elias Freij pulled an opulent woolen kaftan over his street clothes and assured a visitor that his only worry for the moment was his heater. It had broken down, and the wind that whips across Bethlehem this time of year had chilled his house enough to make him shiver. One might have suspected that Freij, who styles himself "the world's best-known mayor," might have other preoccupations.
NEWS
December 17, 1986
Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij said that 1986 will be a bad year for Christmas in the Holy Land. "The Americans are just not coming," Freij said from his office overlooking the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square as workers completed trimming a 36-foot Christmas tree in the square. The mayor said the decline in foreign tourist revenues started in 1985 because of fears of terrorist attacks in the Middle East and then accelerated in 1986 as the value of the dollar declined.
NEWS
January 8, 1986 | United Press International
Two weeks after most Christmas pilgrims left Bethlehem, Eastern Orthodox Christians faithful to the old Julian calender celebrated Christmas on Tuesday. The Orthodox sects celebrated Christmas Mass at midnight, replete with candles, incense, glittering robes and--as always--extremely tight security. Joining the Greek patriarch, Diodoros I, on his traditional procession three times around the Church of the Nativity were Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek and Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij.
NEWS
February 26, 1991
Bethlehem is a Palestinian town under Israeli occupation, and its travails have only been compounded by the Persian Gulf War. For 19 years, Mayor Elias Freij has tried to ensure a pleasant stay for pilgrims and TOURISTS IN THE TOWN WHERE CHRIST WAS BORN. He has hope that the Gulf crisis may eventually bring a resolution to the plight of the Palestinians. But for now, he says, Palestinians are worse off than ever, thanks to the war and the cessation of tourism.
NEWS
December 24, 1986 | United Press International
Mayor Elias Freij said Tuesday that Bethlehem is ready for the thousands of Christian pilgrims who will come here to celebrate Christmas at the birthplace of Jesus, and he urged the world to pray for peace. "My Christmas message to the world is to stop spending billions on armaments and give these resources to people all over the world to improve their lives," the Christian mayor said as he looked over the hilltop Manger Square.
NEWS
December 21, 1987 | Associated Press
Christmas festivities in Bethlehem, the annual highlight in this hilltop town where Jesus was born, are in danger of being sharply curtailed this year because of Arab-Israeli violence. Mayor Elias Freij said Sunday that he is under mounting pressure to cancel all non-religious functions surrounding the holiday to protest a wave of violence in Israel's occupied territories. Official Christmas functions are scheduled to begin Thursday morning in this town four miles south of Jerusalem.
NEWS
January 8, 1989 | DANIEL WILLIAMS, Times Staff Writer
Mayor Elias Freij pulled an opulent woolen kaftan over his street clothes and assured a visitor that his only worry for the moment was his heater. It had broken down, and the wind that whips across Bethlehem this time of year had chilled his house enough to make him shiver. One might have suspected that Freij, who styles himself "the world's best-known mayor," might have other preoccupations.
NEWS
December 20, 1994
Christians who travel to the birthplace of Jesus to celebrate the traditional Holy Week midnight Mass on Saturday will find Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, bedecked with more Palestinian flags than Christmas trees. The Israeli army still occupies the West Bank, but the government has handed over certain areas of civilian life, including tourism, to the Palestinians.
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