The Duke of Cambridge will be the first member of the British Royal Family to make an official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories later this year, at Her Majesty’s Government’s request.
However, this is the most sensitive trip Prince William has ever undertaken but it was an important and unique opportunity to promote diplomatic and cultural ties in the region.
Kensington Palace said the tour ‘has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities’.
Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a ‘historic’ visit and, ‘He will be welcomed here with great affection.’
We welcome the announcement of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to Israel. This is an historic visit, the first of its kind and he will be welcomed here with great affection. I instructed the @IsraelMFA to coordinate preparations for the visit to ensure its success.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) 1 March 2018
President Rueben Rivlin said via Twitter that Prince William’s arrival during the countries’ 70th anniversary of independence was a ‘very special present’.
Nechama & I were happy to hear @KensingtonRoyal announcement, and look forward to welcoming #PrinceWilliam, the Duke of Cambridge, on an official visit to the State of #Israel later this year. A very special guest, and a very special present for our 70th year of independence.
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) March 1, 2018
His father, Prince Charles, attended the funerals of former Israeli president Shimon Peres in 2016 and prime minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995 but it was not considered a ‘formal royal visit’.
Reports of plans for Prince Charles to travel to Israel on an official visit in 2017 but it was cancelled over fear it would anger Great Britain’s Arab allies.
The Queen’s cousin, the Duke of Gloucester, also visited the St John eye clinic in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2007.
Israel looks forward to welcoming His Royal Highness this summer, for what promises to be an exciting and historic visit. pic.twitter.com/c98EXuzqNZ
— Mark Regev (@MarkRegev) 1 March 2018
Prince William’s great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was named Righteous Among the Nations for protecting Jews in Athens during World War II, is buried in the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene near the Garden of Gethsemane.
Another royal relative, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia is also buried nearby.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the announcement on behalf of the Palestinians.
‘On behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee and the Palestinian people, we welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge on his scheduled visit to Palestine this summer,’ Ashrawi said.
‘Prince William, who accepted an invitation from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a welcome guest, not just of the leadership but of the Palestinian people who will provide him with the opportunity to share their stories first-hand and connect on a human level.
British Ambassador to Jordan Edward Oaken said ties between the two nations date back to 1921, during the reigns of Abdullah I and Hussein and the present monarch, King Abdullah II.
Oaken also said that relations were becoming stronger generation after generation under the ‘distinguished ties’ between the two countries’ royal families.
Queen Elizabeth II had visited Jordan in 1984 and King Abdullah always met with the Queen whenever he visits London.
King Abdullah attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1980 as a training officer in the Jordanian Armed Forces. He served for one year in the British Army, before returning to Jordan.