Netanyahu promises to lead tour of holy sites in Israel next Christmas in video greeting
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Netanyahu promises to lead tour of holy sites in Israel next Christmas in video greeting

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted Christmas greetings on Facebook.

“It’s a pleasure for me, on Christmas eve, to be here, standing in Jerusalem, the holy city,” Netanyahu said in a video greeting, standing on a balcony overlooking the city.

“I’m very proud to be the Prime Minister of Israel. A country that says Merry Christmas, first to its Christian citizens, and to our Christian friends around the world,” Netanyahu said in the video released on Sunday evening, on Christmas eve.

“I’m proud that Israel is a country in which Christians not only survive, but they thrive! Because we believe in this friendship among people. And we protect the rights of everyone to worship in the holy shrines behind me,” the prime minister also said.

In the video Netanyahu promises that next Christmas he will lead a guided tour of Christian holy sites in Israel.

Merry Christmas from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu!

It's a pleasure for me, on Christmas eve, to be here, standing in Jerusalem, the holy city. I'm very proud to be the Prime Minister of Israel. A country that says Merry Christmas, first to its Christian citizens, and to our Christian friends around the world!I'm proud that Israel is a country in which Christians not only survive, but they thrive! Because we believe in this friendship among people. And we protect the rights of everyone to worship in the holy shrines behind me.So now I have a proposition for all our Christian friends: I'm going to take, next year, on Christmas, for those of you who come to Israel – I'm going to take a guided tour. In fact, I'll be your guide on this guided tour!And think of all the places you an walk – you can go to the "Jesus Boat" in the Sea of Galilee, you can get to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher right behind me. Any places that you want to visit in the footsteps of Jesus, and the origin of our Judeo-Christian heritage. So please come to Israel, next year in Jerusalem, and merry Christmas to all of you!

Posted by The Prime Minister of Israel on Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christians gathered in Bethlehem on Sunday evening for an annual parade and other events, ending in midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity. Reports said that many tourists stayed away from the city fearing violence and protests in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as  Israel’s capital.

Extra police officers reportedly were deployed at crossings in Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the holiday.