Prince William visits Western Wall, prays for world peace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Prince William visits Western Wall, prays for world peace

British royal places note between stones, tours Temple Mount, pays respects at great-grandmother’s grave on Mount of Olives

  • Britain's Prince William touches the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
    Britain’s Prince William touches the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
  • Britain's Prince William (C-L) walks alongside Western Wall chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (R) during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
    Britain’s Prince William (C-L) walks alongside Western Wall chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (R) during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
  • Britain's Prince William (C), British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (R) and  Western Wall Chief rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (L) talk during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / ABIR SULTAN)
    Britain’s Prince William (C), British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (R) and Western Wall Chief rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (L) talk during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / ABIR SULTAN)
  • An Israeli policeman stands guard as Britain's Prince William visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
    An Israeli policeman stands guard as Britain’s Prince William visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
  • Britain's Prince William (C) and British Consul General in Jerusalem Phillip Hall (L) talk to a guide in Jerusalem's Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock mosque on June 28, 2018. The Duke of Cambridge is the first member of the royal family to make an official visit to the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
    Britain’s Prince William (C) and British Consul General in Jerusalem Phillip Hall (L) talk to a guide in Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock mosque on June 28, 2018. The Duke of Cambridge is the first member of the royal family to make an official visit to the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
  • Britain's Prince William (L) talks to a guide on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
    Britain’s Prince William (L) talks to a guide on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
  • Britain's Prince William visits the grave of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg during a visit to the Mary Magdalene Church, in East Jerusalem, on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Sebastian Scheiner)
    Britain’s Prince William visits the grave of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg during a visit to the Mary Magdalene Church, in East Jerusalem, on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Sebastian Scheiner)

Prince William visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall and the Temple Mount on Thursday morning, on the final day of his three-day trip to Israel and the West Bank.

William was joined at the West Wall by the site’s rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch. After spending several moments alone beside the stones, the prince signed the Wall’s guestbook.

He was accompanied by the site’s rabbi and security guards as he approached the wall. Donning a black skullcap, he placed his right hand on the ancient stones and then, following tradition, slipped a note inside its cracks.

He signed the guestbook with the following passage: “May the God of peace bless this region and all the world with peace.”

“Today we experienced a moment of history which will live long in the memory of Jews around the world,” said the Chief Rabbi of Britain Ephraim Mirvis, who accompanied the prince in his visit. “The Western Wall stands at the epicenter of our faith. To see the future monarch come to pay his respects was a remarkable gesture of friendship and a sign of the duke’s regard for the sanctity of Jerusalem.”

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On the Temple Mount, the prince was allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock, which is generally off limits for non-Muslims.

Crowds of onlookers followed his every move as the prince made his way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre shortly after departing from the Western Wall.

Earlier the prince visited the grave of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg on the Mount of Olives. Princess Alice saved a Jewish family during the Holocaust, and was interred in the cemetery in the late 1980s.

The prince stood solemnly by his great-grandmother’s grave, accompanied by a Russian Orthodox clergyman. He was then given several gifts by the clergy, including a bouquet of flowers and a cross. With the homage, William followed in the footsteps of his father Charles, the Prince of Wales, and grandfather Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had also visited Princess Alice’s grave.

The Duke of Cambridge left Israel in the afternoon. His stay was the first-ever official visit by a member of the royal family since the British Mandate ended and the State of Israel was founded in 1948.

The trip took place under a minor cloud of controversy, as Kensington Palace’s official itinerary states that the prince’s visit to Jerusalem’s Old City would take place in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

ايدي كوهين אדי כהן@EdyCohen

عاجل الأمير ويليام في زيارة لمسجد الأقصى

According to a Hadashot TV news report on Wednesday, William also reportedly refused a request for a meeting in the capital with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Barkat requested a meeting in the city with the royal visitor, who has been staying at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. However, British Embassy officials reportedly told Barkat the prince would be pleased to meet the mayor at a reception held Tuesday at the British ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan, but that the prince would not meet with him in Jerusalem.

The prince met at length in Jerusalem on Tuesday with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Apparently a meeting by the prince with the mayor in Jerusalem, however, would have implied an unacceptable degree of British recognition of Israeli rights in the city.

Barkat refused the offer and stayed away from Tuesday night’s reception.

On Wednesday, in Ramallah, Prince William told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas he was “glad our two countries work so closely together.”

Israel has opposed any attempts by the Palestinians to gain recognition as a state before a permanent peace deal is signed. Still, the Foreign Ministry chose not to respond to William’s comment.

On Tuesday and Wednesday William toured the Tel Aviv beach, met with Israeli youth and took a stroll down the city’s famed Rothschild Boulevard with Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.

William told guests at Tuesday’s Ramat Gan reception that Israel is a vibrant country that “thrives on innovation, diversity, talent and excellence,” and said ties were at an all-time high.

Prince William seen with Israeli footvolley players at Frishman beach in Tel Aviv, on June 26, 2018. (Niv Aharonson/POOL)

He also promised Britain’s support in the quest for peace between Israel and its neighbors.

“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 also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday and met there with Holocaust survivors.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Has Arrived In London

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

 0:45
Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Downing Street to meet Theresa May

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in London March 7 for a three-day visit to the United Kingdom as part of his first official overseas tour. 

Mohammed bin Salman, the divisive crown prince of Saudi Arabia, arrived in London on Wednesday for a three-day state visit. The 32-year-old was greeted at the airport by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, a rare honor for a man not yet head of state.

Later, he will dine with Prince Charles and Prince William — two British royals who are, like him, next in line to the throne, although they hold a small fraction of his political power.

But the pomp and the red carpet notwithstanding, Mohammed’s visit already has turned into a bitter PR battle between those who support the moves he is making for Saudi Arabia and those who call him a “war criminal.”

In some cases, the battle veered into absurd territory, such as when pro-Saudi advertisements were placed next to online articles criticizing the crown prince.

Although Mohammed has pushed through some liberal policies at home — including his dramatic decision to allow women to drive — and he is viewed as a key economic ally for a post-Brexit Britain, his foreign policy is controversial in London.

Notably, the crown prince is the architect of a Saudi-led intervention against Iran-allied rebels in Yemen. Critics say Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate use of force in that conflict has had disastrous consequences for Yemeni civilians, exacerbating what may be the worst humanitarian disaster on earth.


Vans bearing messages of welcome for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are parked in Whitehall in central London on March 7. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/getty Images)

According to U.N. estimates from last year, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015. More than 3 million people have been displaced, the United Nations estimated, and 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian aid.

Awkwardly for Johnson and Prime Minister Theresa May, Britain is a key military supplier of Saudi Arabia. According to one estimate, sales of British weapons to Saudi Arabiaincreased almost 500 percent, to 4.6 billion pounds ($6.4 billion), after 2015, when the Saudi intervention in Yemen began. Saudi Arabia is now the top destination for British-manufactured weapons.

A poll commissioned by the Campaign Against Arms Trade and carried out by Populus found that 6 percent of the British public supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia; 37 percent opposed Mohammed’s visit to Britain.

Amid this public mistrust, advertisements praising Mohammed’s reforms have been blanketing London — in an apparent bid to woo Britons. The advertisements have appeared on billboards, on taxis, on trucks and in newspapers.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Feels like arriving in – when entering London from the M4 & M40 one is greeted by the “beloved leader” @AEISaudi & the lobby try to turn around the kingdom’s image in a not so subtle way @alekhbariyatv

I count one full-page and three half-page “yay for Saudi Arabia” ads in today’s @FT

AEI Saudi, the firm behind the advertisements, is a consulting business that was registered in Riyadh in 2002. In a blog post, the firm’s founder highlighted the significant changes he has seen in recent years in Saudi Arabia, such as a new inclusion of Saudi women in public life.

“If there is one individual who has been the driving force behind these changes it is ‘MbS’, as he is often known,” wrote Adam Hosier, the British-born founder of the firm. “He has faced resistance of course, both internally and from powers outside the Kingdom, yet he has not faltered.”

But these were not the only advertisements greeting the crown prince. In central London, buses were emblazoned with messages accusing Mohammed of being a “war criminal,” while social media users used hashtags to let the Saudi royal know that he was “not welcome.”

Activists from Avaaz, a global activism group, parked a van outside Parliament and had two figures dressed as Mohammed and May drop off child-size body bags. A sign on the van said May should tell the crown prince: “Stop the slaughter, start peace talks!”


Activists from Avaaz stage a protest outside Parliament timed to coincide with the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in London on March 7. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Save the Children, a London-based charity, also highlighted the plight of children in Yemen by placing outside Parliament a small statue of a child standing in rubble and staring at the sky.

Meanwhile, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK has scheduled a protest outside Downing Street, due to start at 5 p.m. local time.

Join us outside Downing Street from 5pm this evening to oppose the Crown Prince and all UK arms sales to his regime. http://aje.io/24aln 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman begins official UK visit

As ruling party welcomes Gulf royal, protesters and opposition politicians call on prime minister to challenge kingdom.

aljazeera.com

It is unclear who is winning the PR battle — other than advertising agencies, of course. The pro-Saudi messages were certainly mocked: Some noted that the advertisements looked better suited to a “sleazy gentlemen’s club” and pointed out that online ads praising Mohammed had appeared next to articles about Saudi corruption.

These adverts for the Saudi Crown Prince are everywhere! Even on articles about Saudi corruption in the Guardian. Cc @claytonswisher.

Many of the billboards welcoming the crown prince appeared along the motorways that connect Heathrow Airport to central London — suggesting that Mohammed may have been the intended audience.

Ads praising MBS all along the M4 this morning. Are they targeted at Brits, or at the Crown Prince’s motorcade?

However, the protests outside Parliament seem to have resonated inside Westminster. During the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday afternoon, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn criticized Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights and accused May of “colluding” in suspected war crimes in Yemen.

“The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one, and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country,” May responded, as opposition lawmakers shouted “shame.”

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of “mansplaining” by the Prime Minister as he raised concerns of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

May later said that she would raise the issue of human rights with the crown prince when she met him and that she had spoken with him about humanitarian concerns in Yemen during a visit to Riyadh in December.

The controversy over Saudi Arabia puts May in a tight spot politically. Britain is looking for bigger trading partners as it leaves the European Union, and broadening its economic relationship with Saudi Arabia would help it do that. The two nations are planning to create a joint Strategic Partnership Council that could lead to Saudi investment of up to 100 billion pounds ($139 billion) in the next 10 years, according to the BBC.

However, the visit is also important for the Saudi crown prince, who is seeking foreign investment as part of Vision 2030, his ambitious plan to reform his country. There are also hopes that the long-awaited public listing of the state oil firm Saudi Aramco might take place on the London Stock Exchange.

 1:34
Saudi Arabia loosens rules around women driving, gender segregation

As Saudi Arabia tries to shake a conservative image, it’s increasing entertainment events and backing off on gender-based rules in 2018.

Mohammed also is planning to visit the United States, home to the New York Stock Exchange, for an investment-focused visit set to start March 19.

Queen Elizabeth Was Almost Shot By Her Own Guard During A 3 A.M. Walk

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF PEOPLE ‘ROYAL’ MAGAZINE)

How Queen Elizabeth Was Almost Shot by Her Own Guard During a 3 A.M. Walk

POSTED ON JANUARY 5, 2017 AT 9:17AM EST

ANDY RAIN/EPA

Watch out, Your Majesty!

Queen Elizabeth once had a close call with a guard at Buckingham Palace who could have shot her after confusing her for an intruder during a late night walk, The Times of London reported on Wednesday.

When she is struggling to sleep, the 90-year-old royal will occasionally head outside and go for a stroll, according to the outlet. During one such 3 a.m. outing within the Palace walls, the patrolman came across a “figure in the darkness” and assumed the worst, according to the newspaper.

However, when he called out to see who was there, it turned out to be the Queen herself.

“Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you,” the guard reportedly told her after realizing his mistake.

“That’s quite all right,” she responded. “Next time I’ll ring through beforehand so you don’t have to shoot me.”

The Times did not specify when the incident took place and Buckingham Palace had no comment on the report.

 

Prince William and Harry‘s grandmother has been struggling with a cold for the past few weeks. The illness caused her to miss annual church services on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Queen Elizabeth has not been seen in public since the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace on Dec. 8. She then hosted the royal family at a special pre-Christmas parties at the palace, and her helicopter was spotted leaving for Sandringham on Dec. 22, one day after canceling her annual train trip to her winter retreat.

Although there are currently no official future engagements listed for the Queen, she could make an appearance as early as Sunday, if she is feeling well enough.

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