JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prince William started the primary official go to by a British royal to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Monday, dealing with the problem of navigating deep political and non secular divides in a Holy Land as soon as dominated by Britain.
William, a 36-year-old grandson of Queen Elizabeth and second in line to the throne, will see non secular websites, honor Holocaust victims and meet Jewish and Arab youths, and Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
A spokesman for the prince, acknowledging the “well-known” and “complex challenges” within the Middle East, mentioned William’s tour, like different visits overseas by members of the British royal household, might be non-political.
But custom and historical past will mark a lot of his stops in an space fought over for hundreds of years and as soon as administered by colonial Britain within the last days of its empire.
In Jerusalem, the holy metropolis on the coronary heart of the Israeli-Palestinian battle, the prince will view its walled Old City from the Mount of Olives throughout his four-day journey.
William, who flew into Israel from Jordan, may also go to the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and the tomb of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who sheltered a Jewish household in Greece throughout World War Two.
“A HISTORIC VISIT”
In remarks to legislators on Monday earlier than William’s arrival in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned “we will of course welcome the prince” on “a historic visit”, and he paid tribute to Princess Alice, as one of many “righteous among the nations” who saved Jewish lives through the Holocaust.
William was not accompanied to the area by his spouse, Kate, who gave delivery to a son, Louis, in April. The couple have two different kids, George, aged 4, and Charlotte, two.
The go to comes simply after Israel marked its 70th anniversary of independence and amid surges of violence alongside the Gaza border, together with rocket assaults by Palestinian militants and Israeli air raids.
William will keep at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. Once the headquarters of British authorities, it was bombed by Jewish militants in 1946. More than 90 folks have been killed.
Britain captured Palestine from the Ottoman empire in 1917 throughout World War One and administered the territory underneath worldwide mandate till 1948, pulling out a day earlier than Israel declared independence.
The journey is on the behest of the British government. Until now it had been British coverage to not make an official royal go to till the Israeli-Palestinian battle is resolved.
“EXOTIC ECCENTRIC CURIOSITY”
“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,” Britain’s Consul General in Jerusalem, Philip Hall, informed Reuters.
William begins the primary full day of his go to, on Tuesday, at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial in Jerusalem to the six million Jews killed within the Holocaust. Accompanied by Britain’s chief rabbi, he’ll lay a wreath in its Hall of Remembrance and meet two Holocaust survivors who got refuge in Britain as kids.
The prince additionally meets Netanyahu on Tuesday and can see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas within the occupied West Bank through the journey.
William’s itinerary consists of visits to Tel Aviv and adjoining Jaffa, the place he’ll meet younger Jews and Arabs and think about high-tech merchandise made by Israeli start-ups.
Tom Segev, an Israeli historian, mentioned some Israelis really feel resentment over what he described because the British royal household’s boycott of Israel over time.
“I don’t expect many Israelis to stream out on to the streets and greet the car of Prince William. He will be treated as some celebrity of course, obviously, maybe some exotic eccentric curiosity,” Segev informed Reuters.
Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Maayan Lubell and Andrew Heavens