The Knesset
The Knesset in Jerusalem: Returning for its winter session. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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Tomer Appelbaum
Carrying a tree in Jaffa. December 11, 2013. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein says he refused to display a Christmas tree in the parliament because of the "painful memories" it evoked among Jews.

Edelstein told Israel Radio Thursday such a public display of a Christian symbol could be construed as offensive.

Earlier this week, Edelstein rejected the request of a Christian-Arab lawmaker. He said the parliamentarian could display a tree in his office and party's conference room.

Edelstein says the initiative is part of an Arab campaign to chip away at Israel's Jewish nature. He warned that if he had agreed he would then likely face further requests to display a cross and crescent in parliament.