At Jerusalem’s holy sites, Prince William talks about importance of peace to all communities

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  • The prince began his tour of the Old City from the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem.
  • He also visited the nearby gravesite of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, whose last wishes were to have her remains buried in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene above the Garden of Gethsemane.

AMMAN: Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, concluded a carefully planned visit to the Middle East region with visits to Jewish, Muslim and Christian sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem visit followed an important meeting in Ramallah with the Palestinian president as well as visits to a refugee camp and engagement with Palestinian social, civil and cultural communities.

On Wednesday night, the Duke of Cambridge met with about 200 Jerusalemites at the British Consulate, where he delivered one of his most important speeches in support of peace and in solidarity with Palestinians.

“The story of the Palestinian people is so often told only through the lens of difficulty and conflict,” the Duke of Cambridge said. “But there is another story which I was privileged to witness today. This afternoon in Ramallah I saw an unforgettable display of Palestinian culture and hospitality. The Dabka, the singing, and the dancing were by turns beautiful, moving and joyful.”

The prince began his tour of the Old City from the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. He then visited the nearby gravesite of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, whose last wishes were to have her remains buried in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene above the Garden of Gethsemane.

After a private visit to the Western Wall, the prince was welcomed at the Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa Mosque by leaders of the Palestinian Islamic community. While on the premises of Al-Aqsa, Islamic leaders talked to him about their difficulties and aspirations.

Abel Azziz Salhab, head of the Higher Waqf Council, told the visiting prince that “what is expected from Britain is to fix the historic injustice against Palestinians.”

Mohammad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem, welcomed him “to the capital of the Palestinian state,” thanking the prince for not wavering on the description of Jerusalem as an occupied city.

Professor Mustafa Abu Sway Al-Ghazali, chair at Al-Quds University, gave the prince a tour of the UNESCO world heritage site explaining the importance of the third holiest mosque in Islam.

The prince appeared happy to hear about the accommodations provided to Muslim women by having them pray at the Dome of the Rock mosque while men worship at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The prince asked about the ability of Palestinian youth from outside Jerusalem from accessing the mosque. Al-Ghazali told the British royal visitor that Palestinian youth are not allowed at all to visit the mosque.

“During Ramadan, men over 40 years old are allowed to visit from the rest of the Occupied Territories but youth under 40 are not allowed to visit at all throughout the year.”

The Anglican primate of the Middle East, Archbishop Suheil Dawani, told Arab News that the prince was happy to tour holy sites in Jerusalem.

Dawani, who was entrusted with the Christian leg of the visit, said that he accompanied the prince from St. George’s Order in the old city to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

“On the way to the church, the prince was greeted by local Palestinians, including a young woman on a wheelchair whom the prince spent a considerable time chatting with,” Dawani told Arab News.

The prince visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and met with the Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian patriarchs of Jerusalem as well as leaders of all Christian community in Jerusalem.

Dawani told Arab News that the prince spoke about the importance of peace to all communities.

Palestinians generally were pleased with the visit of the second in line to the British throne and were delighted that the British royal stuck to his guns and did not retract the official description of the visit to Jerusalem as being part of his visit to the Occupied Territories.

While Israeli officials did not like the description, it seemed that the Israelis did not want to argue too much with the prince on this issue, a political leader in Jerusalem told Arab News.

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