Boris Johnson ends Middle East tour with visits to holy sites and Ramallah


Boris Johnson finishes his swift Middle East tour with visits to world-renowned holy sites and Palestine, amid a backdrop of heightened security in Jerusalem.

The London mayor will head for Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem's Old City, with disputes over the landmark regarded by some as a contributor to increased tensions and violence in the area.

The compound is the third-holiest site in Islam, with the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock located there, and the holiest site in Judaism as it is where two Jewish biblical temples previously stood.

Mr Johnson will also visit the Western Wall and Holy Church of the Sepulchre before heading to Ramallah, which includes a meeting with Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah.

An Israeli security guard stabbed at a Jerusalem light rail station on Tuesday by two Palestinian boys, aged 11 and 14, responded by firing and wounding one of them.

And Israeli security forces killed two other Palestinians in the city for alleged attempted stabbings.

The violence followed a period of relative calm although there was little sign of unease in the mayor's travelling party on Tuesday as Mr Johnson wandered a market in central Jerusalem and found himself presented with wine, cheese and a giant fish.

His scheduled talks with Palestine's first female governor Leila Ghannam will no longer take place, with "personal reasons" cited for the cancellation of all her appointments today. 

The three-day trade mission has also seen Mr Johnson drop further hints about his leadership thoughts, with the Conservative MP among those considered to be in the running to replace David Cameron when he steps down.

Mr Johnson told an audience in Jerusalem on Tuesday night that he intends to do everything in his power to prevent Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister.

He labelled Mr Corbyn's views on the Middle East and Israel as "very, very eccentric" and "damaging".

Islington North MP Mr Corbyn has previously strongly rejected allegations he is anti-Semitic, labelling them "beyond appalling".

Mr Johnson said: "My view is that the views of the leader of the Opposition are very, very eccentric indeed and damaging because I think to call groups like Hamas and Hezbollah 'friends' is simply crazy and flying in the face of the manifest evidence of what those terrorist-supporting groups are up to.

"I think that he's wrong there and, you know, look, the only comfort I can give you is that without remotely being complacent I think it's very, very unlikely that his views are shared by his colleagues in the Labour Party, let alone shared by members of the British public at large.

"Again, without wishing to be complacent, I don't think it's likely he will succeed in becoming prime minister.

"And it's my intention to do everything in my power to avert that from happening, and I think we have a very good chance, but I have to say I share your concern about some of the things he's said."