The bitter global politics that have fostered endless wars over Israel’s eternal capital city managed to also taint the first official visit by Britain’s Prince William to Israel this week.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had requested a meeting with the Duke of Cambridge, who is second in line to the British throne, but was told that such a meeting could not take place because it would be perceived as a political statement.
Instead, he was invited to meet with the prince at the official residence of Britain’s Ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, in Ramat Gan, located about 45 minutes away, near the coast.
The mayor declined and politely let his British contacts know that he could not compromise with the honor of Jerusalem at stake, according to sources close to the mayor.
“Barkat refused to meet with the prince in Ramat Gan, and agreed to do so only in Jerusalem,” the sources said. “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.”
The mayor, said the British embassy, was invited to the reception honoring the prince together with Israel’s president, prime minister, cabinet minister and other dignitaries, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Prince William has made extraordinary efforts to avoid, as much as possible, any appearance of political bias on this first trip to the region. It’s been a difficult tightrope to walk, given the nature of leaders with whom he is meeting, and the events taking place.
For instance, Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization launched an hours-long overnight barrage of rockets at southern Israel on Prince William’s second night in the country. The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system was triggered into intercepting at least ten of the projectiles, indicating they were all heading directly for heavily populated areas. At least three other rockets landed in open areas of Israeli territory.
The overnight terror does not include the dozens of arson kite and balloon firebomb attacks that were launched against Israeli farm and forestland in southern Israel during the day, also by Gaza terrorist cells who repeated the process again on Wednesday.
All these attacks against Israel were taking place even as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas appealed to Prince William and the British people during their meeting in Ramallah to support his entity’s campaign for sovereignty. Abbas assured the Duke of Cambridge that the Palestinian Authority of his “full commitment to achieving a full and lasting peace based on a two-state solution where the state of Palestine lives side by side with the state of Israel, with both supervising peace and security”.
Abbas said in his welcoming remarks, “On this occasion, your royal highness, allow me to specify two things – number one, my full commitment to achieving a just and lasting peace based on a two-state solution where the state of Palestine lives side by side with the state of Israel, with both supervising peace and security.
“This is our position, I reiterate it today, this will not change… We are fully committed, your Highness, along with you (to do) our best to fight terrorism, whether domestically, regionally and internationally. Therefore we have agreements with many nations on earth, including yours, to fight terrorism and I’m sure that this will be one of our subjects for discussion today. Thank you.”
While subsequently meeting with young people in the Palestinian Authority, Prince William said, “I know I share a desire with all of you, and with your neighbors, for a just and lasting peace,” expressing the same sentiment in the exact same wording that he shared with their Israeli counterparts 24 hours earlier.
As for Abbas, he personally continues to sign off on authorization for payment of hundreds of thousands of shekels in monthly salaries to bloodthirsty terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons, and to the families of those who died attempting to murder Israelis, many of whom succeeded — not to mention the endless parade of public memorials, events, buildings, and central squares his government has dedicated to the eternal glorification of the terrorists dedicated to the murder of Israeli men, women and children.