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Archbishop of Canterbury to meet Palestinian and Israeli leaders

Th e Archbishop of Canterbury is to meet Palestinian and Israeli political leaders as part of a 12-day tour of the Holy Land. His visit comes two weeks before US President Donald Trump is due to arrive in Jerusalem to try to revive the moribund peace process. However, the Most Reverend Justin Welby indicated there should not be too much signifi cance read into the timing encourage,” he told the BBC.

“It would be very presumptuous to go further. You cannot, in a place as complicated as this, go and lecture people.” Th e archbishop will later meet the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has just returned from meeting Mr Trump at the White House. He will meet the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.

Th e archbishop met Jordan’s King Abdullah – an important player in peace eff orts – during a visit to the country last week. Th e head of the Anglican Church stressed that, as well as meeting political fi gures, he was also speaking to ordinary people caught up in regional confl icts. In Jordan’s vast Zaatari camp, he met refugees who escaped the bloody war in neighbouring Syria. At a church in Amman, Iraqi Christians told him how they had fl ed the advances of the so-called Islamic State group and would not return home.

“Th e statistics of refugees are completely overwhelming,” Mr Welby said. “When you hear the individual stories, you see that behind each statistic is this mountain of pain.” Th e archbishop has been careful to hear voices from both sides in the decades-old Israel-Palestinian confl ict. In a previously unannounced move, he visited Gaza – which has seen repeated confl icts between Palestinian militants and Israel in the past decade.

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