President Shim'on Peres continued, Tuesday morning, to express his sadness at Monday's announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would step down at the end of February. Addressing the major news agencies represented in Israel, Peres said one of the pope's contributions was his declaration that the Jews are not guilty of the murder of Jesus and that they are the Church's big brother. Peres called the pope's statement far-reaching, adding that he never abandoned the Jewish people, visiting Israel and a synagogue in Rome to show friendship.
Peres said Benedict prayed for peace and did not ignore the need to institute peace, especially here in the Holy Land. Peres called him a friend, noting the improvement in the Vatican's relations with Israel under the current pope.