Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday for his exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ.
In Benedict's new book, portions of which were published on Wednesday, he tackles one of the most controversial issues in Christianity, using biblical and theological analysis to discredit the belief that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' death.
Netanyahu sent a message to the pope on Thursday, thanking him for dispelling the belief "which was used as a basis to hate Jews for hundreds of years."
"It is my hope that this display of clarity and courage will strengthen the relations between Jews and Christians around the world," the prime minister's message stated.
Netanyahu also expressed hope that Benedict's exoneration would "aid the advancement of peace" for generations to come.
Jewish scholars also praised the argument laid out in Benedict's new book. While the Vatican has for five decades taught that Jews weren't collectively responsible, Jewish scholars say that the pope's exoneration would help fight anti-Semitism today.
The prime minister concluded his message to the pope by expressing hope that he would see him in the near future so that he could express his appreciation personally.
Benedict's book is the second installment to Jesus of Nazareth, his first book as pope, which offered a very personal meditation on the early years of Christ's life and teachings. This second installment, set to be released March 10, concerns the second half of Christ's life, his death and resurrection.