Prince William lands in Tel Aviv on first official Royal visit to Israel, Palestinian territories


Updated June 26, 2018 10:16:17

Prince William has arrived in Israel, marking the first time a Royal has made an official visit to the country and the Palestinian territories.

The Duke of Cambridge touched down in Tel Aviv on Monday evening after two days in Jordan, where he toured the Roman ruins of Jerash, met Syrian refugees and sat down with 23-year-old Crown Prince Hussain to watch England’s 6-1 World Cup win over Panama.

But the focus now turns to his solo journey to Israel and Palestine.

It is one fraught with political overtones despite Kensington Palace reinforcing the “non-political nature of His Royal Highnesses’ work”.

During the tour he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and in times where a mere tweet can cause ripples around the globe, words have to be chosen wisely.

A taste of that came just last week, when several Israeli MPs voiced their outrage after the Royal itinerary mentioned that the Duke’s visit to the Old City in Jerusalem was in the “the occupied Palestinian Territories”.

The Old City is part of East Jerusalem, and much of the international community does not recognise Israel’s annexation of the area.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said the reference was a “distortion” that “cannot change reality”.

The tour has put the 36-year-old prince in an “appalling position”, according to Ben Jamal, director of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

“The decisions about where the Royal family go are made not by the Royal family, but by the UK Government, and I think the responsibility for putting a member of the Royal family in what I would describe a completely invidious position, where he is at risk of being seen to sugar-coat, to normalise human rights abuses, that responsibility rests with [British Prime Minister] Theresa May,” Mr Jamal said.

“So it is impossible in that context for the first visit not to be political, and obviously the concern is that if you’re reversing a policy that has existed for 70 years, you need to have a very reason why you’re doing that.

“The only good that can come out of this is if it brings international attention to the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people and need for action to end that.”

Others are more optimistic about what a Royal visit could do for the troubled region, as well as Britain’s Jewish community, the Jewish Leadership Council’s CEO, Simon Johnson, said.

“We’ve waited a long time for an official visit of this nature, and we’re delighted that the Duke of Cambridge will be spending time in the region and proper time in Israel learning about the country and meeting people and experiencing some of the issues that are relevant on the ground,” Mr Johnson said.

“There’s no question that diplomatically its very sensitive, and I’m sure that Kensington Palace and the Foreign Office are tiptoeing appropriately around the areas that might create flashpoints.”

While some of the sites the Duke will visit are not officially listed on his itinerary due to apparent political sensitivity, the ones that are have been warmly received, including him meeting young Israelis and Palestinians.

“For this visit he is not going to just be in a series of rooms shaking hands with politicians,” Mr Johnson said.

“What he will be doing is getting out and seeing the vibrancy of this most vibrant part of the world.

“I think that the pictures you will see of the heir to the British throne in some of the world’s most holy religious sites, meeting ordinary people in one of the world’s most scrutinised areas, I think will be very powerful.

“I think it will be very powerful for that region, and very powerful for the Royal family as well.”

Topics: world-politics, royal-and-imperial-matters, israel, united-kingdom

First posted June 26, 2018 09:14:46


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *