Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem's old city on Sunday.
Credit Lior Mizrahi / Getty Images
Reports that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said at a fundraiser in Jerusalem that "culture" is among the reasons Israel's economy is much stronger than those in "areas managed by the Palestinian Authority" have led a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accuse Romney of racism.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene. The presumptive Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, is holding meetings today in Israel with top Israeli officials, and also with the Palestinian prime minister. This morning, Gov. Romney made a visit to the Wailing Wall.
This is the second stop on a much-anticipated overseas trip that got off to a rocky start, in London. Sheera Frenkel is joining us on the line from Jerusalem, to update us on the trip. And Sheera, good morning.
The Kalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah in the West Bank is best known as a flashpoint between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces. Images of masked youths throwing rocks by the painted concrete wall here are ubiquitous.
Protesters gathered at Kalandia again last week, but their focus wasn't Israeli soldiers: It was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Egypt's grand mufti, Ali Gomaa (center, with scarf), visits the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in April. The Dome of the Rock, which is part of the same compound, is shown behind him. Many Muslims have boycotted the site because Israel claims sovereignty. But Palestinian religious figures now say they welcome such visits, a move that has sparked controversy.
For decades, Muslims around the world have been unofficially boycotting Islam's third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa mosque Jerusalem.
Many Muslims believe that visiting legitimizes Israel's claim to the site, which also sits atop the holiest place in Judaism. The Palestinians, meanwhile, are seeking a state with a capital in east Jerusalem, where the mosque is located.
But Palestinian religious authorities at Al-Aqsa and Palestinian officials are now calling on Muslims to visit the shrine, a change that is creating controversy within the Palestinian community.