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Jerusalem, so close, still out of reach for many PalestiniansHe lives only a 20-minute drive from occupied Jerusalem but for Palestinian Abu Bashir the city and its sacred sites might as well be a world away. A Muslim who lives in the traditional birthplace of Christ, Abu Bashir says since Israel occupied East Jerusalem's Islamic and Christian holy sites in the 1967 Middle East War, Palestinian worshipers' ties to their shrines have eroded.Most of the more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot visit Jerusalem today without a permit.Father Jamal Khader, director of the Latin Patriarchate seminary in Jerusalem, recalls childhood memories of holy days in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.There were some 25,000 Christian residents of Jerusalem in 1966, but there is now half that number, according to official figures.
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