Peres hosts Christian leaders, stresses commitment to freedom of religion

Peres hosts Christian le

President Shimon Peres hosted a traditional ceremony at his official Jerusalem residence on Monday to welcome the Christian leadership in Israel. Peres offered his blessings to hundreds of Christian leaders, wishing them a "Happy New Year and a Merry Christmas." The president also stressed Israel's fundamental commitment to freedom of religion, in Jerusalem and the holy sites. "It is Israel's responsibility to make sure every believer can pray to his or her Lord without interruption," he said. "Israel is deeply committed to protecting the holy sites for every religion. We will not tolerate any offense toward any church, mosque or synagogue." Christian leaders in attendance included Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal, representative of the Armenian Patriarch Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, Custos of the Holy Land, Friar Pier Battista and Greek-Catholic Melkite Archbishop Elias Shakur.