President Shimon Peres:
"Peace is not just a desire, it is not just a call from heaven, I think it can be attained and achieved. We have to act determinedly, honestly and courageously to achieve it."
"May everybody be blessed with a good new year"
The Greek Patriarch Theophilos:
"Our shared history has taught us that the road to peace is a dynamic process, that is to say that it is not through violence but through dialogue."
In honor of the New Year the President of the State of Israel, President Shimon Peres, hosted a reception for the leaders of the Christian faith in Israel. President Peres delivered a special greeting and said, "I would like to express my best wishes and greatest hope from Jerusalem, a city that is holy to us all and that represents peace for everybody in the world. May everybody be blessed with a good new year."
President Peres continued and said, "Relations between the Christian community and the Jewish community at their best in the past 2000 years, I have the greatest respect for the Pope amd agree with him that peace is not just an earthly demand but a heavenly order, if there is one thing that clearly unites all of us it is the prayer for peace, the hope for peace. You can have your own prayers, your own way of worshiping but peace remains the uniting factor. All of us would like to see an end to bloodshed, an end to suffering. We were all born equal and not the same but no matter how different we may be we remain equal all our lives."
President Peres added that striving for peace remains the top priority and said, "Peace is not just a desire, it is not just a call from heaven, I think it can be attained and achieved. We have to act determinedly, honestly and courageously to achieve it. That was from the very beginning, from the old testament to the new testament and throughout the scriptures. We can see the start of peace in the Middle East, we have peace with Egypt which we highly appreciate, we have peace with Jordan and we started a peace process with the Palestinian people. We must continue, we should not give up. I don't think it's a matter of politics. It's a matter of principle, it's a vision."
President Peres stressed that he opposes negotiations with Hamas while they reject the three principles of the quartet; renouncing terrorism, recognizing Israel and accepting previous peace agreements. President Peres said, "There is a Palestinian Authority with which we signed an agreement and there is a separate organization in Gaza, Hamas. They must decide whether they want peace or war, what sort of relationship they want; shooting or building. We have no interest in seeing anybody in Gaza suffering, we would be happy to see Gaza be successful."
The Greek Patriarch Theophilos, who delivered a greeting for the New Year on behalf of the leaders of the Christian faith said, "We greet you warmly in this season of renewal and hope. Events and gatherings such as this are of great importance both for celebrating the common bonds of our humanity and for reminding ourselves of those fundamental values that are essential to our common life. Our shared history has taught us that the road to peace is a dynamic process, that is to say that it is not through violence but through dialogue. It is dialogue that builds trust and mutual acceptance, and that shows us the way forward. Time and again we say that we condemn violence wherever it occurs and we work wholeheartedly to build a lasting peace and security to which everyone, regardless of religious affiliation or cultural identity is entitled."