Sir Paul McCartney visits Palestinian site during Israel visit
Sir Paul McCartney said he was carrying a message of peace for Israel and Palestine as he toured the West Bank town of Bethlehem ahead of his planned concert in Tel Aviv.
By Tim Butcher in Bethlehem
Last Updated: 8:18PM BST 24 Sep 2008
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney visits the Church of Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem
During a lightning visit to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, Sir Paul got a mixed reaction.
Among local Palestinians there was mostly bafflement at his status. Mohammed Itmaizi, a 26-year-old policeman guarding the ancient Byzantine basilica, said he had never heard of the Beatles or Sir Paul.
But among Western tourists visiting the church, Sir Paul's visit was welcomed with gusto. -----
When asked his attitude to those Palestinian leaders who have criticised him for agreeing to perform in Israel, breaking their call for a cultural boycott of Israel, he said he respected their view but disagreed.
"I have come here to Bethlehem deliberately to see Palestine with my own eyes," he said.
"Anyone who knows me knows I support peace for all people.
"This visit is meant to counter those that criticise me for going to Israel."
The visit to Bethlehem, which lies in the occupied West Bank, had to be arranged at the last moment as plans to visit Ramallah, the de facto capital of the occupied territories, had to be cancelled for security reasons.
Diplomats feared Sir Paul could get caught up in a protest rally in Ramallah by Palestinian opponents of his Israeli concert.
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