By Gavin Drake
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, has welcomed a visit by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, to the area, and the message of peace and harmony that he bought. Prince William completed his five day tour of Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories yesterday morning (Thursday 28th June) in Jerusalem’s Old City, where he visited sites sacred to the three Abrahamic religions: the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many Christians belief stands on the site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The visit was the first official visit by a member of the UK’s royal family to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, invited Archbishop Suheil to accompany Prince William on his tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre because of the links between the royal family and the Anglican Communion, through their close connection with the Church of England.
The visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was the final stop on a whirlwind five-day tour for Prince William. After spending two days in Jordan, during which he visited a refugee camp housing Syrians fleeing the conflict there, he flew to Tel Aviv before travelling to Jerusalem
His first official engagement in Israel was a visit to Yad Vashem, the international holocaust memorial centre, museum and school. Here the Prince took part in a simple but moving wreath laying ceremony before Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, recited the Jewish prayer for the dead – the El Malei Rachamim. He also met two survivors of the holocaust – two men who, as children, were put on specially chartered trains for Jewish children – the Kinder Transport – taking them to safety in the UK.
“By visiting the Old City . . . he really sent a very strong message for the three religions and the two communities – the Israeli and the Palestinian communities – that I am here really just to emphasise the need for harmony and peace amongst all the religions and communities who live in this city,” Archbishop Suheil told the Anglican Communion News Service last night. “This is what we need and this is part of our mission of reconciliation.”
“I believe that he did his best to accomplish a mission for peace and reconciliation; first of all amongst the governments – the Israeli and the Palestinian governments – and, I think, between different communities and religious communities here.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) at a reception in the British Consulate, I saw Jews, Christians and Muslims together, attending the ceremony. . . It is a gesture that this man is here for peace and reconciliation.”
During his visit, Prince William met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem; before travelling to Ramallah to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He also visited a Palestinian refugee camp. Throughout his time in Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Prince William met with many young people taking part in cultural and sporting projects. [ACNS]