In a visit to Bethlehem, the Prince of Wales delivered a strong message of support for the plight of the Palestinian people, the Telegraph reported.
In an address on Friday, the prince, heir to the British throne, said: “It is my dearest wish that the future will bring freedom, justice and equality to all Palestinians.”
In what seemed to be the clearest indication of support for Palestinians by a member of the British royal family, he referred to the “signs of continued hardship” visitors face on arrival in Bethlehem, the newspaper reported.
“It breaks my heart that we should continue to see so much suffering and division,” he added.
The prince spoke at Casa Nova, a Franciscan pilgrim house near the Church of the Nativity. He also stopped to chat with a group of Palestinian refugees, among them Dr Abdelfattah Abu Srour, director of the Al Rowwad Centre in Aida refugee camp.
Srour told the prince he works with children as young as eight, who when asked what they want to be when they grow up have responded “that they want to die because nobody cares”. He said the prince replied: “It is painful to hear that.”
The prince also spoke with another refugee, Rua Ahmad Abuoda, 20, an engineering student and member of a women’s empowerment group that works with mothers and disabled children in the Aida and Al-Azzeh refugee camps.
She told the Telegraph: “I spoke to him about disabled children. Some of them have been injured through Israeli soldiers and conflict.”
Prince Charles met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, prayed with Christian clergy and visited the grave of his grandmother, who is buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives and is honoured by Israel for saving Jews during the Holocaust, Reuters reported.
Earlier, Prince Charles had attended a multi-faith service in the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus, in the centre of Bethlehem
The prince was shown the manger below the church where Christians believe Jesus was born.
Wind and rain
Amid howling wind and rain, the prince joined Muslim and Christian leaders in a symbolic walk through the centre of Bethlehem in a gesture aimed at spreading a message of religious co-existence.
Meanwhile, also on Friday, former grand mufti of Jerusalem Ekrima Sabri entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in defiance of an Israeli police order that barred him entry last week.