'Peace on Earth': Netanyahu highlights normalization in Christmas message

"Remarkably, here in the Middle East, we have been actively making progress in realizing the biblical prophecy of 'Peace on Earth', or at least this part of the earth."

Four Santa-clad beachgoers are seen enjoying a day in Tel Aviv ahead of Christmas. (photo credit: YOSEE GAMZOO LETOVA/TEL AVIV GLOBAL & TOURISM)
Four Santa-clad beachgoers are seen enjoying a day in Tel Aviv ahead of Christmas.
(photo credit: YOSEE GAMZOO LETOVA/TEL AVIV GLOBAL & TOURISM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Israel's Christian friends a merry Christmas on Wednesday night, highlighting how Israel and its new friends in the region have worked to realize the biblical prophecy of "Peace on Earth."
"This Christmas, the traditional greeting of 'Peace on Earth' - will once again be expressed by millions across the globe. This while our world suffers from the terrible COVID-19 pandemic, and from far too much violence and conflict," said Netanyahu in a video released on Twitter.
"Remarkably, here in the Middle East, we have been actively making progress in realizing the biblical prophecy of 'Peace on Earth', or at least this part of the earth," added the prime minister. "This past year, and with the active help of the United States and President Trump, we have moved forward with the Abraham Accords, achieving historic breakthroughs between Israel and the Arab world."
 
Netanyahu stressed that four new agreements were made in less than four months after 26 years had passed without a new peace treaty, promising that "this is just the beginning."
"More and more Arab countries are rethinking traditional hostile attitudes towards Israel and are seeking reconciliation with the Jewish state," said Netanyahu. "Instead of regarding Israel as their enemy, they increasingly regard us as a friend, as an ally, a vital ally and a vital partner."
The prime minister called the changing atmosphere "new and revolutionary," stating that it will "make a better life, a better place for all the peoples of the Middle East. It will make for a better world."
"This Christmas when you pray for Israel and you pray for peace, know that your prayers are really being answered. Peace on Earth," concluded Netanyahu.
Starting on Sunday at 5 PM, Israel will enter its third coronavirus lockdown to fight rising infection rates, meaning that many of Israel's Christians will spend Christmas in lockdown.
Limited worship services will be allowed on the three dates of Christmas celebrated in Israel, despite the upcoming lockdown that will be in effect during at least one of the celebrations of Christmas, the Knesset's ministerial committee on the coronavirus announced on Wednesday night
While most Americans are used to celebrating Christmas on December 25, which comes before the upcoming lockdown, Israeli Christians celebrate the holiday on December 25, January 7 and January 19 due to different traditions and calendars among different streams of Christianity.
While the Roman Catholic celebration of Christmas on December 25 will take place before the lockdown begins, the Greek Orthodox celebration of the holiday on January 7 will take place under lockdown and the Armenian celebration of the holiday will take place under lockdown if the lockdown is extended.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.