Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked Pope Francis for a number of his gestures, Sunday, as he welcomed the pontiff at Ben-Gurion Airport. Speaking in Hebrew, he said, "We admire and appreciate your decision to lay a wreath on the grave of Benjamin Zeev Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement. We know that when you light the eternal flame at Yad Vashem in memory of the one-third of our people who were murdered in the Holocaust, it will be another expression of your belief that anti-Semitism is a crime against God and against humanity, as was the heinous anti-Semitic crime perpetrated yesterday on European soil."
Switching to English, Netanyahu continued, "Your Holiness, in the heart of the Middle East, the turbulent and violent Middle East, where Christians are often persecuted, Israel is an island of tolerance. We safeguard the rights of all faiths. We guarantee freedom of worship for all and we are committed to maintaining the status quo at the Holy sites of Christians, Muslims and Jews."
Returning to Hebrew, the prime minister concluded, "In Jerusalem and around our country, the prophets' vision of our people's renaissance is being fulfilled. This renaissance is one of the greatest symbols of humanity. It is not just the story of the Jewish people, but also the triumph of the human spirit which does not surrender to the horrors of history and succeeds, despite all obstacles, to rise up to the heights of progress, creativity and hope for peace."