Settlers, Palestinians join together to pray for rain
AL-WALAJAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – In a rare gesture of solidarity, Muslims, Christians and Jews joined together in a West Bank village, bowing down to pray for rain in the parched Holy Land.
Around 50 people gathered in the village of Al-Walajah between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, with representatives of each religion offering their own prayers.
Israel and the Palestinian territories have been plagued by several years of poor rainfall, and forecasts for this winter are equally bleak.
After the prayers, the imams, priests and rabbis sowed the land with wheat, calling it God's harvest.
The prayer was the initiative of Eretz Shalom (Land of Peace), a group of pacifist Jewish settlers that try to encourage moderate elements among fellow settlers and Palestinians.
Bethlehem governor Abdul Fatah Hamayel was among those at the prayers.
"It was very emotional, very important, we found a new partner," said Eliaz Cohen, one of the founders of Eretz Shalom, referring to Hamayel.
Relations between Palestinians and Jewish settlers are usually tense with Palestinians accusing the settlements of usurping land the Palestinians' claim for their promised state.