TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Britain’s Prince William on Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership is committed to peace with Israel.
The British royal was greeted by an honor guard before sitting down with Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The prince drew criticism for inaccurately referring to the Palestinian territories as a “country.”
“I’m very glad our two countries work so closely together and have had success stories with education and relief work in the past, so long may that continue,” William told Abbas.
“My sentiments are the same as yours in hoping that there is a lasting peace in the region,” the prince said.
Abbas responded, “The Palestinian side is committed to the peace process with the Israelis, so both states could live peacefully together within the borders of 1967.”
The prince’s visit also sparked a minor controversy when Kensington Palace used the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” in describing 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.”
Earlier Wednesday, William walked around Tel Aviv with Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai as well as attending a soccer game with Arab and Jewish schoolchildren in Jaffa.
On Tuesday, President Reuven Rivlin asked William to convey a “message of peace” to Abbas prior to their meeting.
“I know that you’re going to meet President Abbas. I would like you to send him a message of peace,” Rivlin said.
“And tell him it is about time, it is about time that we have to find together the way to build confidence. To build confidence as a first step to bring to [an] understanding that we have to bring to an end to the tragedy between us” that has been going on for 120 years, he continued.
Rivlin told the prince that it was time for the Palestinians to come to terms with the fact that Israel is a Jewish state.
“They have to understand only that the Jewish people have returned back to their homeland,” he said.
“There’s only one God, and we are letting everyone worship God according to his belief,” the president added. “All the other problems have to be solved first of all with the understanding of both sides that we’re not doomed to live together. Our destiny is to live together. We are destined to live together.”
Prince William is the first British royal in history to make an official visit to Israel.