Muscat in Bethlehem for visit to Church of Nativity on Christmas Eve

Outgoing prime minister was in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve with foreign minister Carmelo Abela

Joseph Muscat is greeted by Fadi Haninia
Joseph Muscat is greeted by Fadi Haninia

Outgoing prime minister Joseph Muscat was in the West Bank on Christmas eve, where he was greeted by the Palestinian ambassador to Malta, Fadi Haninia.

Muscat was accompanied by his spouse Michelle, as well as foreign minister Carmelo Abela and his spouse, where they arrived on Tuesday to attend midnight mass at the Church of Nativity with other foreign dignitaries and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The visit to the Holy Land comes just a few weeks since Muscat’s audience with Pope Francis, at a time when his government was struggling with a crisis that has now prompted his resignation.

Michelle Muscat accompanied the prime minister
Michelle Muscat accompanied the prime minister

Muscat was expected back in Malta on Christmas Day.

His visit coincides with reports that the prime minister was gifted a Bulgari watch in 2014, said to be valued at €20,000, by Yorgen Fenech, the Tumas magnate facing charges of having masterminded the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The gift not only opens up serious questions about a breach of the code of ministerial ethics, but also about whether Muscat was aware of Yorgen Fenech's secret business affairs with his former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and their offshore network.

Carmelo Abela is greeted by the Palestinian ambassador
Carmelo Abela is greeted by the Palestinian ambassador

On Palestine TV, Muscat can be seen accompanied by Haninia and Abela during a visit to the Church of the Nativity, the basilica located in Bethlehem in the West Bank. The grotto it contains holds a prominent religious significance to Christians of various denominations as the birthplace of Jesus. The grotto is the oldest site continuously used as a place of worship in Christianity, and the basilica is the oldest major church in the Holy Land.

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