Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem:
"Look at our neighbors. Look at what President Abbas is doing. I mean, he's rewarding terrorists. Pay for slay. The more they kill – the more they get paid. He has on his law books a rule, a law that says that if you sell land to Jews – you'll be executed. Some peace and some coexistence.
People have to say the truth. You are ambassadors of truth. You're not merely the greatest ambassadors that Israel has around the world – you're champions of truth. And if there's one thing that I can ask you to do is to tell the truth. Tell the truth about our history, tell the truth about our present, tell the truth about who wants peace and who doesn’t want peace.
You can also tell the truth about something else: Israel is a robust democracy. It supports and protects the rights of all: the rights of Jews, Christians, Muslims – of all. And we are the only ones who do so in a very broad radius. I think there's something unusual for Christians because Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community thrives and grows.
That is also applicable to what happened in the Palestinian Authority areas. You know the town of Bethlehem? Yes. You have a connection to it. We all do. And among other things, we have a connection to King David, the history of Ruth as you know, but also the story of Jesus. Now, Bethlehem had when we handed it over to the Palestinian Authority a Christian population of roughly 80%. Now it's about 20%. And that change happened because in the Palestinian Authority areas, as well as throughout the Middle East, Christians are being constricted, they're being pressured, also they're being persecuted.
Israel is the one country that protects the human rights of all. We protect the religious rights of all. We don’t just protect Christian religious sites – we protect Christian people. Christians should enjoy all the freedom to worship as they please in the Middle East and anywhere else and the only place in the Middle East where they can do so is Israel.
We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends and I take this opportunity to thank you for your steadfast support. You are standing up for Israel and you are standing up for the truth and we stand up for you."
In response to journalists' questions, Prime Minister Netanyahu added:
"Iran wants to base itself right next to Israel in order to destroy Israel. They say so openly. We will not let them do so. We back up these words with actions, including now in these days, as we speak. Nothing has changed. We'll continue to do what we need to do to protect ourselves and defend ourselves against those who would destroy us."
In response to a question about Lara Alqasem, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"Every country and every democracy and many democracies have special arrangements where they decide who to let in and who not to let it. If you come in and you are virulently against America and you try to come to the United States, there's a good chance you won’t be let in if people know that in advance. That's also true of many of the European democracies. It's true of the democracy called Israel.
I trust that Minister Erdan has examined that and looked into it. It's under the decision now of the Israeli Supreme Court so I'm not going to get into that. And they'll decide whether they handle it or not. If they handle it – we'll see how it develops. If they don’t handle it – she'll be deported."
In response to a question about B'Tselem, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"How do I define B'Tselem? A disgrace. That's how I define them."
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