"I wish Christians in Israel and all over the world a very Merry Christmas.
Christmas is a special opportunity to spend time with loved ones and to celebrate this most festive of holidays.
And as you gather with your families and your friends to celebrate this Christmas and as you enjoy the blessings of the New Year, I am sure you will remember those who are less fortunate because Christian communities across the Middle East are experiencing a particularly difficult time.
They experience violence, persecution and fear. This has become the daily staple of Christian communities throughout the Middle East. Not so in here in Israel, the one exception. Because here in Israel, religious freedom is a sacred principle. Israel's Christian citizens enjoy the full blessings of freedom and democracy, their equal rights enshrined in Israeli law.
So on this most important day in the Christian calendar, let us remember the common heritage and values that unite us in the face of extremism and hatred, which we will never accept.
From Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish People, the city of peace, I join Christians everywhere, and especially those in the Middle East, in a common prayer for a more peaceful and tolerant world.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"