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Netanyahu: We'll Continue to Protect the lives of Christians in Middle East" - Israeli Prime Minister hails Israel for Great Protection 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Israel as the only real protector of Christians in the Middle East at a Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem on Sunday, while accusing the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of persecuting the religious minority living there.   

“Israel is the one country that protects the human rights of all. We protect the religious rights of all. We don’t just protect Christian religious sites – we protect Christian people. Christians should enjoy all the freedom to worship as they please in the Middle East and anywhere else and the only place in the Middle East where they can do so is Israel,” Netanyahu said at the event which was organized by the Government Press Office.  

“We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends and I take this opportunity to thank you for your steadfast support. You are standing up for Israel and you are standing up for the truth and we stand up for you," the prime minister added.  

Netanyahu also lashed out at the Palestinian Authority’s handling of Christian sites in the West Bank, such as Betlehem, which is one of the holiest sites in Christianity.

“You know the town of Bethlehem? Yes. You have a connection to it. We all do. And among other things, we have a connection to King David, the history of Ruth as you know, but also the story of Jesus. Now, Bethlehem had when we handed it over to the Palestinian Authority a Christian population of roughly 80%. Now it's about 20%. And that change happened because in the Palestinian Authority areas, as well as throughout the Middle East, Christians are being constricted, they're being pressured, also they're being persecuted,” Netanyahu said.

Addressing the tense situation between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu accused President Mahmoud Abbas of undermining the prospects of peace and coexistence by rewarding terrorists who kill Jews.

AFP/Musa Al-Shaer

“Look at what President Abbas is doing. I mean, he's rewarding terrorists. Pay for slay. The more they kill – the more they get paid. He has on his law books a rule, a law that says that if you sell land to Jews – you'll be executed. Some peace and some coexistence,” he said.

Terrorism, Netanyahu said, is a growing concern in African nations with Muslim majorities, which has brought many of them to cooperate with Israel on fighting the phenomenon.

It “paves the way for additional countries to recognize the State of Israel, and I think you will be hearing about them very soon,” Netanyahu said.

When asked about Indonesia, which is the country with the largest population of Muslims in the world, Netanyhu said it is in the interest of Israel to have "excellent relations" with the Asian country.  

“Indonesia is very, very important for us. It’s a very important country. It’s one of the last countries on earth that doesn’t have an open and robust relationship with Israel. Most countries do. Indonesia has over 200 million people. It has Muslims. It has tens of millions of Christians. We would like to seem them here. We would like to have excellent relations with them,” Netanyahu said.

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