Britain’s Prince William enters occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian president


GAZA: Britain’s Prince William travelled to the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

William, on the first official British royal visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, will see Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The prince met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday in Jerusalem.

William arrived in Israel from Jordan on Monday evening without his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who gave birth to their third child two months ago.

He overnighted in Jerusalem at the King David Hotel, former headquarters of the British administration during the mandate in Palestine before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

On Thursday, he is to complete his stay by visiting historical and religious sites in Jerusalem.

“We know this is not a time when we can celebrate progress in the Middle East peace progress, but we believe that engagement is just as important in challenging times as it is in good times,” Philip Hall, Britain´s consul general in Jerusalem, told journalists on Monday.

“We know some of the politics are difficult, but this is not a political visit.”

Israel defines Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible” capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump´s decision in December to recognise Jerusalem as Israel´s capital sparked Arab outrage, and the May inauguration of the US embassy in the city coincided with bloody border protests in the Gaza Strip.

Some right-wing Israeli politicians have criticised the fact William´s visit to east Jerusalem is being organised by the British consulate, which deals with the Palestinians.

Hall said they were following ‘decades’ of rulings in the United Nations that declare east Jerusalem, including the Old City, part of the occupied Palestinian territories.

“There is no change in the position.”

Israel seized the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Official visits by British royals are organised at the request of the UK government.

Other members of William´s family — including his father Prince Charles — have made unofficial visits to Israel and east Jerusalem in the past.