Full text of President Peres' address

Your Holiness; The State of Israel greets you today most warmly, and welcomes you with an open heart. We, in the homeland of the Jewish people, are delighted to host you and your delegation on your journey to the Holy Land. In keeping with the tradition of hospitality from the days of Abraham, it is with deep appreciation that we welcome you. We are attentive to your message and extend a carpet of friendship as you travel our land. We greet you with a common word in our language which conveys the essence of our dreams: Your Holiness, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth: SHALOM In you we see a promoter of peace; a great spiritual leader; a potent bearer of the message of peace to this land and to all others. Our history serves witness as much to unity in devotion to the Almighty as to the consequences of earthly divisions. Judaism is built on tolerance of other faiths. In the words of Micah: "For all people walk each in the name of his god. And we will walk in the name of the LORD our God Forever and ever". (Micah 4,5) Divisions are stubborn, but the peoples of our region have tired of wars. We shall leave the divisions to history, And the new history we shall write in letters of faith and peace. We have lost our most precious in battle. We have found hope around the negotiating table. Democracy was never interrupted by war and peace alike. Our people experienced suffering. We knew Holocaust. Our state emerged out of the ashes of our innocent sisters and brothers who were exterminated in Hitler's gas chambers. The smoke of the crematoria became a light that guided our lives. Our home in Israel is a refuge of life for those who saw only death. As descendents of the victims, our hearts are sensitive to the suffering of others. Your Holiness, Spiritual leaders can pave the way for political leaders. They can clear the mine-fields that obstruct the road to peace. The spiritual leaders should reduce animosity so that political leaders do not resort to destructive means. Old divisions have aged and diminished. So more than the need for another armored vehicle, we need a strong, inspiring spirit to instill both the conviction that peace is attainable, and the burning desire to pursue it. Ties of reconciliation and understanding are now being woven between the Holy See and the Jewish people. We cherish this process and your leadership. Our door is open to similar efforts with the Muslim world. From the day we returned to our homeland after two thousand years of exile, we have been committed to freedom of religion and worship for all in this land, and enable everyone to commune with his God upon his choosing. All of us: Jews, Christians, Muslims, all people of faith, recognize, that, today's challenge is not the separation of religion and state, but the uncompromising separation of religion from violence. Our universal God commanded us not to kill and called upon us to sanctify human lives. In the past, enmity was tremendous, but the menace of bows and arrows was limited. Nowadays, the danger of modern weapons is unlimited, and any expression of hostility, even if trivial, can serve as a trigger for the destruction of peoples, nations and humanity as a whole. Your Holiness, This year, the year of your visit here, may reveal an opportunity for us and our neighbors, to attain peace. While many political clouds still darken the horizon; and the voices of incitement obscure the sound of peace; and much violence converged on the crossroads of our lives; most peoples in this region yearn for peace. Heeding their call, concerted efforts can yet turn this year into a historic one for the benefit of All peoples. All religions. All children. A year of regional peace, not just a local one. From here, from Jerusalem, from this land on which the Prophets walked, I wish to offer a prayer: That walls of hostility fall, that hatreds of the past disappear, That a new history will bring a new dawn, to permit the coming generations to be born in peace, to live in peace, and to impart a legacy of peace to their descendants. That we be freed of threats and violence, and that justice is secured for all peoples. Security for every person. This prayer, a prayer of man to God, shall reach its destination. Each will deliver it in its own language, each prayer in good faith, None censored. Unfettered. We pray that every person will live in tranquility and freedom in his own home, with his family and children. Neither houses of slaves, nor houses of masters. We shall pray together, that mothers, all mothers, regardless of religion or nationality, no longer know hardship or anxiety, and raise infants who know not the taste of sin, and children whose future will not be curtailed. With you, Your Holiness, we shall pray, that the Creator gives us the wisdom to be humble; the call not to humiliate others; The remembrance that every man is born in God's image. And while we are different, the essence of equality is the equal right to be different. Differences should never be addressed with waving swords. To reinforce our commitment to restore The dignity of men; The freshness of air; The purity of water; The fertility of land; The hope of the young. Your Holiness, As you stand at the gates of Jerusalem the Eternal, From this place, from the City of God, our blessings shall escort you, with the wish that your prayers shall reach both the heavens and the ears of men. May the beacons of history illuminate your steps on the soil of the Holy Land. We welcome you in peace. With your departure, may the legacy of peace prevail. May your visit bring peace.