Israeli PM Wishes Christians a Merry Christmas

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Israeli Christians and Christians around the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in a video clip posted on YouTube. 

The greeting in English was subtitled in Arabic - the language of much of Israel's native Christian community. 

In his message, Netanyahu said Israel is proud of "its strong and growing Christian community" as well as the "passionate support" of many Christians worldwide.

The Jewish state is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is actually growing.

"We're living at a time of great insecurity and instability in the Middle East, and Israel throughout this instability remains a beacon of religious freedom and pluralism," Netanyahu said.

"In a region where Christians are routinely persecuted and where there's little tolerance for the faith of others, Israel safeguards the holy places of the great religions and ensures freedom of worship for all," he added.

The Israeli prime minister also invited Christians to visit Israel and the places where "Jesus lived and preached a message of universal peace, a message that spread across the world."

"As you celebrate Christmas and the New Year, all the people of Israel join you in hoping for a year of prosperity, a year of security and above all a year of peace," he said. "Merry Christmas."

Jerusalem Dateline:

Christmas in the Holy Land

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