Dr Mike Evans

Israel’s president meets with Christian leaders, affirms freedom of religion

President Isaac Herzog met with Christian leaders from across Israel this week in Jerusalem to reaffirm the nation’s freedom of religion, urging unity among all “children of Abraham.”

“As president of the State of Israel, I wholeheartedly commit to preserving absolute freedom of religion and worship for members of all faiths in this Holy Land,” the president said.

“You have truly enriched our nation and our land, as have our many Christian friends around the world,” he added.

Herzog also shared a picture from those attending the event on Twitter, adding, “We miss our Christian friends across the globe and look forward to welcoming you back soon! May we all be blessed with a happy and healthy New Year.”

The event was held just two weeks after church leaders in Jerusalem had issued a statement condemning attacks on Christians in the nation. The statement accused extremist groups of attempting to remove Christian presence in Israel, words that trouble government leaders.

The church leaders requested new dialogue with leaders in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan to address the issue. Herzog’s meeting appeared to address the issue in a prompt and positive manner to affirm the nation’s religious freedoms and condemn attacks against Christians.

Christians have long served an important part of the nation’s people and its economy. The pandemic has caused strains on international relationships, as most travel has been limited, including Christian tourism, that serves as a vital point of connection between Israel and Christians worldwide.

Some Christians have pressed Israel to lower restrictions to allow travelers to return, yet the recent Omicron variant has led to stronger limitations. Both the US and Canada were recently added to Israel’s list of restricted nations for travelers.

The meeting reaffirmed the government’s good will toward the nation’s Christians, yet there is always room to continue improving relations among those living in and visiting Israel.