Prince William has said he can “only imagine the difficulties of life” faced by Palestinians – as he told them: “You are not forgotten.”
The comments came in his final speech of his historic Middle East tour at the residence of the British consul in Jerusalem. Earlier, he held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and met with grassroots Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank, where he enjoyed traditional food and entertainment.
He said: “I saw at Jalazone the tremendous hardships faced by the refugees, and I can only imagine the difficulties of life lived under these conditions, the limited resources and the lack of opportunity.”
And he vowed: “You have not been forgotten. It has been a very powerful experience to meet you and other Palestinians living in the West Bank, and to hear your stories. I hope that through my being here and understanding the challenges you face, the links of friendship and mutual respect between the Palestinian and British people will grow stronger.”
He described it as a “great pleasure” to be be in Jerusalem for the reception – but stayed clear of any mention in the speech of occupied territory. And, notably, he repeated the exact same sentence he used last night at the British ambassador’s reception: “I know I share a desire with all of you, and with your neighbours, for a just and lasting peace.”
While the story of the Palestinians was often told through the sole lens of conflict, he insisted, the visit had enabled him to see a side of culture and hospitality which was “beautiful, moving and joyful.
“Your rich traditions of scholarship live on in the importance you attach to education. I know how much we in the United Kingdom benefit from the many Chevening scholars and other bright young Palestinians who study in Britain. And I was delighted to know what value you too place on these exchanges.”
He added: “I am also struck by how many people in the region want a just and lasting peace. This is only too evident among the young people I have met, who long for a new chapter to be written in the history of this region – a chapter which will secure them a prosperous future and will ensure that their enormous talents can flourish. These are not extravagant aspirations, but the same aspirations of young people everywhere in the world.”
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