Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday commemorated the Christmas holiday, emphasizing that his country says "Merry Christmas."

"I'm very proud to be the prime minister of Israel, a country that says 'merry Christmas' first to its Christian citizens and to our Christian friends around the world," Netanyahu said in a video posted to Twitter.

"I'm proud that Israel is the country in which Christians not only survive, but they thrive because we believe in this friendship among people and we protect the rights of everyone to worship in the holy shrines behind me," he said from Jerusalem.


Netanyahu spoke on Christmas Eve, as other political figures around the world marked the holiday, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE.

Trump often emphasizes his wishes of "merry Christmas" over other more generic greetings around late December, such as "happy holidays," claiming that people are more receptive to marking Christmas since he entered office.

The president made the distinction as recently as Sunday morning, telling soldiers deployed overseas on a video conference that the country is saying "merry Christmas again."

"I just want to wish everybody a very, very merry Christmas. We say merry Christmas, again, very, very proudly. Very, very merry Christmas," Trump said.

On Sunday night, Trump tweeted to assert that he "led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase," saying, "People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again."

The Trump administration has defended its decision announced earlier this month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite international backlash.

Trump also signaled plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, where most other countries maintain their diplomatic posts in Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking Sunday from Jerusalem, said he would lead a guided tour of Israel and "the origin of our Judeo-Christian heritage" for those who visit the country next year for Christmas.

Updated: 10:02 p.m.