At the annual reception hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for spiritual and lay leaders of Christian communities in Israel on Tuesday, Greek Patriarch Theophilos III said: "We take the opportunity of this holiday gathering to express our gratitude to you for the firmness with which you defend the freedoms that lie at the heart of this democracy - especially the freedom of worship....The State of Israel takes pride in the fact that this state was founded on democratic principles in the Middle East and that it guarantees full freedom of worship."
Earlier, Rivlin had spoken of the suffering of the Syrian population and asked his guests to join him in praying for their well-being. Rivlin spoke of the ongoing effort to build good relations between Christians and Jews, saying that Jews, Christians and Muslims alike share many common values. Rivlin added: "United Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and it will remain so. There is no international body with the power to revoke this."
Rivlin also said, "Time and again we have held out our hand in peace and called for direct negotiations without preconditions and without any delay. The decision to take Israel to the UN Security Council was wrong in trying to force preconditions, but also in the way it was done....The Security Council vote was a blow to peace, and it was a blow to trust." )