Prince William in Israel for first-ever official visit by senior British royal | News | DW | 25.06.2018
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Prince William in Israel for first-ever official visit by senior British royal

The prince's visit was organized at the behest of the British government amid tensions in the region. Although his trip is considered non-political, Prince William is expected to meet with Israeli and Arab leaders.

Prince William arrived in Israel on Monday in what is the first official visit by a senior British royal.

Although the UK played a key role in the creation of the state of Israel, the monarchy had maintained a hands-off approach to the country.

Historic visit

During the visit, Prince William plans to:

  • Visit the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem and lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.
  • Meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Visit historic sites in Jerusalem.

'Challenging times'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers on Monday that "we will of course welcome the prince" on "a historic visit."

Philip Hall, the UK's consul general in Jerusalem, told Reuters news agency: "In a sense, in challenging times, it's all the more important that friends of the region show their interest, show their engagement for the long term, and I think that's exactly what Prince William will be able to do."

Prince William in Jordan

Prince William was in Jordan prior to arriving in Israel

Change in the air: The trip was planned at the behest of the British government. Prior to Prince William's visit, it had been policy not to make an official royal visit to Israel or the Palestinian Territories until the conflict is resolved. British officials have said the prince's Middle East visit is heavily focused on engaging with youth. Prior to arriving in Israel, he was in Jordan.

Read more: Israel at 70: What does the future hold?

What challenges does he face? According to an Israeli historian, some Israelis feel resentment over what he described as a decades-long boycott of Israel by the royal family. "I don't expect many Israelis to stream out on to the streets and greet the car of Prince William," Tom Segev told Reuters. "He will be treated as some celebrity of course, obviously, maybe some exotic eccentric curiosity."

Read more: Little optimism in Middle East conflict, Israeli historian says

Britain's past: Shortly before Israel declared independence in 1948, British troops officially withdrew from the mandate in Palestine. The UK had captured the territory ruled as the British Mandate in Palestine from the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Towards the end of the conflict, the British government announced its support for a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine in what is known as the Balfour Declaration.

ls/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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