CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu called Christian Zionists the best friends Israel has in the world.
"This is a friendship of the heart, a friendship of common roots, and a friendship of common civilization," Netanyahu told some 1,000 American evangelical Christians at a Jerusalem rally sponsored by Pastor John Hagee, leader of the Texas-based organization, Christians United for Israel.
Netanyahu, keynote speaker at the rally in Jerusalem, was joined on stage by Hagee, who agreed that Jerusalem must remain the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish state.
"Turning part or all of Jerusalem over to the Palestinians would be tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban," Hagee said.
Jerusalem came back under Jewish sovereignty during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinian Authority (PA), supported by member nations of the Arab League, claims the eastern half of Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
At the rally, Hagee told participants that $6 million, raised by American Christians, would be distributed among 16 Israeli organizations, including Magen David Adom, Israel's national emergency rescue service. Hagee's organization raises support for Israel, without proselytizing.
Meanwhile last week, American Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the liberal Reform Jewish movement, denounced friendship with evangelical Christians, labeling them religious extremists who reject a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Yoffie also criticized evangelicals for their positions on gay rights and abortion.
Member of Knesset Rabbi Benny Elon (National Union/National Religious Party), who chairs the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC) called Rabbi Yoffie's remarks "shameful," while praising Pastor Hagee as a "man of courage."
Similarly, Israeli Rabbi Shlomo Riskin said that after 2,000 years of enmity and pogroms, the growing friendship between evangelical Christians and Israel was an historically important, 20th century miracle.
"What we have to understand is that the Christianity of persecution, intolerance and Jew-hatred is not the Christianity of Pastor Hagee and most evangelicals today," Rabbi Riskin said.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post, The Associated Press