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Herzog hosts New Year’s reception for church leaders: “I pledge for freedom of worship”
President Isaac Herzog hosts a traditional New Year’s reception for heads of Christian churches in the Holy Land, alongside Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked.
“We are all children of Almighty God, the same God, and we all dream of a better world by filling it with peace, kindness, charity and mercy,” says Herzog. “We can do it together, united by our common values rather than dividing the world with differences.”
“As President of the State of Israel, I wholeheartedly commit to preserving absolute freedom of religion and worship for members of all faiths in the Holy Land,” Herzog adds. “I know that Home Secretary Ayelet Shaked joins me in assuring you that we will stand firm against any form of racism, discrimination or extremism, and that we will reject any aggression or threat against religious communities, chiefs or places of worship. “
Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, told the president that church leaders are “particularly grateful for your unwavering commitment to the integrity of the multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of our region and your advocacy for the rights of all those who call the Holy Land our home.
He said the leaders were “grateful for the stated commitment of the Israeli government to maintaining a safe and secure home for Christians in the Holy Land.”
Earlier this month, Christian leaders in the Holy Land warned their communities were threatened with being driven from the region by radical Israeli extremist groups, and called for dialogue on preserving their presence.
The patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem issued a joint statement warning alike of the danger posed by radical groups who they say aim to “diminish the Christian presence.”