Report: Prince William Refused Meeting With Jerusalem Mayor

Britain's Prince William talks with a guide as he surveys Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Mosque mosque compound and its golden-topped Dome of the Rock on June 28, 2018
AFP

TEL AVIV – Prince William reportedly refused a request to meet with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in the capital out of concern that it would come across as a political statement. Barkat in turn refused to meet with the British royal outside the capital. 

According to Israel’s Channel 2, Barkat asked to meet with the British royal in the capital but was told that meeting in that location would imply British recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Instead the prince was told that he could meet with Barkat at a reception at the British ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan.

Barkat refused, saying he would rather not meet at all “out of respect for Jerusalem.”

“Barkat refused to meet with the prince in Ramat Gan, and he agreed to do so only in Jerusalem. This is the first official visit by a member of the British royal family to Israel, which is important and appropriate, but the State of Israel has one capital, which is a united Jerusalem. Barkat refused for the honor of Jerusalem and not for his own honor,” sources close to the mayor said.

The prince’s trip was the first official visit by a member of the royal family since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

The visit sparked a minor controversy even before it took place when Kensington Palace used the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” to describe his upcoming visit to Jerusalem’s Old City.

UK Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey defended the decision, saying that all “the terminology that was used in the program was consistent with years of practice by British governments. It’s consistent with British government policy.”

The prince also drew criticism for referring to “our two countries” during his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry chose not to comment on the inference that “Palestine” is a country.

Britain’s Foreign Office said only that “the UK government supports the creation of a sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian state — living in peace and security, side by side with Israel.” It added, “The UK will recognize a Palestinian state at a time when it can best help to bring about peace.”

William told guests at an ambassador’s reception that Israel is a country that “thrives on innovation, diversity, talent and excellence.”

“I know I share a desire with all of you, and with your neighbors, for a just and lasting peace. The United Kingdom stands with you, as we work together for a peaceful and prosperous future,” he said.

William had a poignant last day on Thursday, with visits to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the grave of his great-grandmother on the Mount of Olives.

Donning a yarmulke, the prince looked reflective as he stood with his right hand on the stones of the Western Wall. He also put a note between the stones as is customary and signed a guestbook with the message, “May the God of peace bless this region and all the world with peace.”

The prince also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and received special dispensation to enter the Dome of the Rock, despite the fact that he is not Muslim.

The prince’s trip was the first official visit by a member of the royal family since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

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