Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu sent words of gratitude on behalf of the people of Israel to Pope Benedict XVI, highlighting the departing pontiff's efforts to strengthen between Jews and Christians. "On behalf of the people of Israel, I want to thank you for all you have done as Pope to strengthen relations between Christians and Jews and between the Vatican and the Jewish State," the letter stated.
The 85 year-old Pontiff announced on Feb. 11 that he would resign, effective Feb. 28. Pope Benedict will spend time at the Papal residence in Castelgandolfo near the Vatican, and later move to permanent quarters at a monastery within the Vatican grounds. "I thank you also for courageously defending Judeo-Christian values and the roots of our common civilization during your time as pontiff. I have no doubt that these values, which were so essential to building the modern world, are no less critical to securing a future of security, prosperity and peace."
Netanyahu recalled Pope Benedict's visit to the Holy Land, describing it as a "rare opportunity to give expression to the new relations between our faiths." The Israeli premier recalled with fondness Pope Benedict's reference to Judaism as "Christianity's elder brother" as well the Pontiff's affirmation of a cooperative future between Christians. The letter concluded with a wishes for long life and happiness.