“The State of Israel would not have come into being if it weren’t for the avid support of Christians in the 19th century, in the 20th century as well and in the 21st century,” Netanyahu continued. “We know that we have no better friends around the world than our Christian friends. So thank you. Thank you all for standing up with Israel, standing up for the truth. Merry Christmas.”
Some 177,000 Christians live in Israel, or roughly two percent of the population, according to figures released this week by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Christmas festivities are particularly prominent in Jesus’s childhood hometown of Nazareth in the northern Galilee region, where some 21,900 Christians live alongside an estimated 55,000 Muslim residents.
The next-largest Christian community, numbering 16,100 according to official figures, is in the northern metropolis of Haifa, followed by Jerusalem (12,700) and Shfaram (10,300).