President Shimon Peres on Thursday welcomed the announcement of the new pontiff, saying Pope Francis I brings with him "a spirit of hope and peace."
Peres made his remarks to a delegation of 14 Polish bishops who are rounding up a week-long spiritual renewal in Israel.
"The new pope will be welcomed in the Holy Land with love and appreciation by Jews, Muslims and Christians as one," Peres said.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, leader of the delegation and a member of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, told Peres that there was no more suitable place than the holy city of Jerusalem in which to hear the good news about the election of Pope Francis.
The name of the new pope was announced Wednesday, after a relatively short cardinals' conclave to elect a successor to Benedict, who made the shock decision to step down last month. Pope Francis I, formerly Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, is the first non-European and first Jesuit Bishop of Rome in a millennium.
American Jewish leaders also welcomed Francis' appointment, with Anti-Defamation League president Abe Foxman saying that he was "reassured" over the record of the new Pope, and Bergoglio had been crucial in maintaining "positive Catholic-Jewish relations".
Meanwhile, Rabbi David Rosen of American Jewish Committee told JTA that
the new pope is a "warm and sweet and modest man" known in Buenos Aires
for doing his own cooking and personally answering his phone. After the
deadly bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, the then-archbishop "showed
solidarity with the Jewish community," Rosen said.