Between blood moons, peace talks, prophecies, and terrorists it is certainly going to be an interesting year for Israel.
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Smoke wafted through the air in Jerusalem on Monday morning as Jews burned scraps of bread and added the final touches to weeks of meticulous preparations for Passover, the holiday in which the biblical story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from ancient Egypt is retold.

This year, the holiday comes amid uncertainty over the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with the sides facing an end-of-April deadline to reach a preliminary deal or agree to an extension of negotiations.

Israel sealed off the West Bank, barring Palestinians from entering Israel, an annual Passover precaution against possible attacks. Israeli police also restricted access to a Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims, trying to avoid friction by allowing only Muslim worshippers over age 50 to enter.

The weeklong Passover holiday, which begins at sundown Monday, commemorates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from centuries of slavery in Egypt, as described in the Old Testament. In Judaism, it is dubbed the festival of freedom.

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