Come back to an independent Palestine, Abbas tells Prince William

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Prince William gestures during a visit at the Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. (Reuters)
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Prince William (R) speaks with Palestinian students at a school operated by the UNRWA inside the Jalazoun refugee camp. (AFP)
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Britain's Prince William walks to meet the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 27, 2018. (AFP)
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Prince William receives a Palestinian national team football shirt.
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Prince William meets the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
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Prince William showing off his skills with the ball in Ramallah. (AFP)
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Head of the Palestinian Football Federation, Jibril Rajoub and Britain's Prince William pose for a picture with young Palestinian football players in Ramallah. AFP
Updated 27 June 2018
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Come back to an independent Palestine, Abbas tells Prince William

  • Second in line to British throne visits West Bank refugee camp  
  • President says Palestinians need the support of British people

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Britain’s Prince William to Palestine and affirmed his full commitment to achieving a just and lasting peace with Israel. 

The Duke of Cambridge visited a refugee camp, inaugurated a musical fountain, and enjoyed music and Palestinian cuisine.

Abbas told the visiting prince that Palestinians are serious about making peace with Israel. “We want to reach peace through negotiations. This is our position which has not changed in a long time,” he told the Duke of Cambridge, who is on his first official visit to Palestine, during their meeting at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

“I hope that your next visit will be in the state of Palestine when we have our full independence,” Abbas added.

He said the prince’s visit will deepen and strengthen the friendly ties between the Palestinian and British people. 

“We are always in need of the support of the British people for our just Palestinian cause,” he said.

Abbas also mentioned the recent financial aid provided by the British government to support the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), saying it was an important gesture.

Scott Anderson, director of UNRWA field operations in the West Bank, told Arab News that he was happy to take the British prince to the Jalazoun refugee camp outside Ramallah. “He visited a health center and a girls school, and he interacted with mothers and children.”

Anderson called it a “positive visit” and said that the prince was engaged throughout, asking many of the teenagers “what they wanted to do when they grow up.”

Ahmad Abu Laban, the Ramallah city manager, said that the prince met with city’s mayor and council and other Palestinian leaders. 

“We were proud to host the prince after his meeting with President Abbas,” the added.

Prince William took part in a ceremony to open Ramallah’s first musical fountain. Abu Laban said that after the official meetings, speeches and musical presentation, the British royal enjoyed Palestinian cuisine. 

“He walked around our food fair enjoying falafel and kenafeh sweets, and engaging with the local community. He seemed excited and happy with the visit.”

The Duke of Cambridge visited the local Friends school and met Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association, and members of the Palestinian national team as well as young footballers.

“It was the first time since 1800 for such a royal British visit,” Abu Laban said. 

“Even though the royal palace doesn’t deal with politics, we are happy he referred to our future capital as the occupied city of Jerusalem.” 

While the British prince steered away from politics, David Stansbury, from the British Consulate General in Jerusalem, told a Palestinian radio station that the UK supports the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as capital to both countries.

Stansbury was adamant that the UK had no plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The UK Consulate in Jerusalem was busy on social media. @UKinJerusalem tweeted that this is “the first official visit by a senior member from the Royal Family to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” It called the visit “a historic moment and a model of strong ties of friendship and respect between the British & Palestinian peoples.”

The prince will visit Jerusalem on Thursday.


UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

Updated 18 August 2018
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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.
The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.
In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:
• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.
In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.
In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.
Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”
On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.
Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”
UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”
UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.
The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008.