Prince Charles calls for ‘freedom, justice, equality’ for Palestinians during Bethlehem visit

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Britain's Prince Charles arrives to visit Omar mosque in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Britain's Prince Charles visits Omar mosque in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Britain's Prince Charles visits Omar mosque in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Charles signed the Mosque of Omar visitor book in English and in Arabic. (Twitter: @ClarenceHouse)
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Prince Charles also met with President Mahmoud Abbas, who thanked the UK for its support of the Palestinian people. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 January 2020

Prince Charles calls for ‘freedom, justice, equality’ for Palestinians during Bethlehem visit

  • ‘Dearest wish’ expressed during first visit to Israeli-occupied territories
  • Charles visited Mosque of Omar and Church of the Nativity

LONDON: The UK’s Prince of Wales on Friday said it is his “dearest wish” that the Palestinian people receive “freedom, justice and equality.”

Prince Charles, speaking in the city of Bethlehem during a historic first trip to the occupied Palestinian territories, added that he will “pray for a just and lasting peace” in the Middle East.

He said he had been “struck by the energy, warmth and remarkable generosity of the Palestinian people.”

His words of hope for Palestinians come at a time when US President Donald Trump is expected to unveil his long-awaited Middle East peace plan, which is heavily tipped to favor Israel.

“It breaks my heart, therefore, that we should continue to see so much suffering and division,” Prince Charles said.

“No-one arriving in Bethlehem today could miss the signs of continued hardship and the situation you face, and I can only join you, and all communities, in your prayers for a just and lasting peace,” he added.

“We must pursue this cause with faith and determination, striving to heal the wounds which have caused such pain.”

The prince visited the Mosque of Omar, named after the caliph who conquered Jerusalem in 637 AD but ensured that Christians would be allowed to continue to worship. Charles signed the visitor book in English and in Arabic.

 

 

He also toured the Church of the Nativity, built on the site reported to be the birthplace of Jesus.

Having visited both places of worship, Prince Charles said Bethlehem encapsulates the “vital co-existence between Christians and Muslims.”

The city’s governor said after the prince’s visit: “The strongest message from Bethlehem is that we are proud as Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, to live here together.”

He added that the prince was “very interested” in every detail of the mosque and “asked about the poor people, how we can help them.”

Prince Charles also met with President Mahmoud Abbas, who thanked the UK for its help in building state institutions, and its assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Abbas also thanked the UK for accepting the two-state solution.

“Our hope in the near future is that Britain recognizes the State of Palestine, because we’ve heard that the British Parliament recommended this to the government. So we hope that this will happen,” he said.

 


Egypt sets virus vaccine target

Updated 25 min 9 sec ago

Egypt sets virus vaccine target

  • Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days

CAIRO: Assistant Health Minister and Coordinator of the Anti-COVID-19 Scientific Committee Ihab Kamal said that 842 people have volunteered in just one week to take part in Egypt’s coronavirus vaccine trials.

About 332 have been admitted in accordance with the health ministry’s requirements, which include being free from chronic disease.

Kamal said: “The number of volunteers until now is not low. We are working on raising the awareness of the citizens through various media platforms on the importance of the vaccine tests.” He added that the required number of volunteers is 6000.

He said the first two phases of the vaccine tests are complete and the third phase has begun. He added that volunteers are called for 21 days, pointing out that volunteers take a second dose in case they do not suffer any side effects. Kamal said the blood’s antibodies are measured throughout the year as part of the program.

Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed announced on Thursday that she had launched the third and final phase of clinical trials on two vaccines developed by Egypt. She said the results of the two vaccine trials are positive so far.

Sources said that the Ministry of Health and the three centers taking part in the trials have received many applications. However, many of the applicants do not match the prerequisites, and therefore only 335 were accepted for the trials.

Zayed said in a press conference in Cairo that the current phase targets the participation of 6000 Egyptians. She said there are three places allocated for clinical trials.

Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days. After 45 days of the first dose, antibodies produced by the vaccine are measured to test their efficiency, Zayed said.

She said that national medical committees have been formed from civil and military bodies representing Egypt’s best medical experts.

She added that a committee will oversee conducting the clinical trials and that two vaccines out of seven have reached the third phase of clinical trials.

Zayed said that the first phase of the two vaccines included a test on a small group of 10 to 20 people with the aim of ensuring safety and also determining an appropriate dose. About 200 people took part in the second phase.

The third phase aimed included trials on 45,000 people from around the world, including 6,000 Egyptians.

The Ministry of Health and the company responsible for conducting the clinical trials explained the conditions that volunteers must follow to be eligible for tests.

They include an age bracket from 18 to 60 years old according to health condition. Registration must also be carried out using official documents. Volunteers must reside in Egypt or have valid residency documents during the trial period. Moreover, volunteers must sign an “informed consent” form prior to taking part in the trial.

There are a number of health conditions that prevent volunteers from taking part in the trials, including suffering from the symptoms of fever, dry cough, exhaustion and gonorrhea during the 14 days that precede the tests.