The official itinerary for Prince William's visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories was released online over a week ago. But it was only when an Israeli minister complained Monday about it describing Jerusalem's Old City as being in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that the public became aware of it.
There is no mention of a possible visit to the Western Wall – one of the holiest sites in Judaism – although when overseas politicians visit the site, it is invariably in a private capacity and not part of official state business.
The itinerary details most of the stops the British prince will be making when he embarks on the first official state visit to the Holy Land by a member of the royal family, from June 24-28.
Prince William will begin his tour in neighboring Jordan this Sunday, June 24, and will land in Israel the following evening. He will be staying at Jerusalem's King David Hotel – which was the main administrative building of officials during the British Mandate era, from 1920-1948. The hotel was also the site of a terrorist attack by a Zionist underground organization in July 1946, which killed 91 people.
The prince's duties start on the morning of June 26, when he will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center at 10:15 AM. The official press release notes, "You will recall that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Stutthof concentration camp last year, as well as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin – so this visit will be immensely poignant."
Prince William is set to meet with a Holocaust survivor and members of the Kindertransport – Jewish children in Europe who were sent to Britain to escape the Nazis between 1938 and 1940. The duke will be accompanied on his tour by British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
At noon, the second-in-line to the U.K. throne will then head for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin at their official residences in Jerusalem, before heading west to Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
In Jaffa, the duke will meet youngsters from two organizations who work on fostering coexistence between different religious and ethnic communities: The Equaliser [SIC] and the Peres Center for Peace. The prince, a keen soccer fan, will witness a match hosted by the two nonprofits and "spend time with children and teenagers involved in several of their projects, including one focused on empowering young women."
The evening will be spent at a reception at the residence of the ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, where the prince will deliver a speech, before heading back to Jerusalem.
There are two mystery items on the prince's itinerary: an event in central Tel Aviv on the afternoon of June 26, "for an event that will be announced during the visit," and a "cultural event" in Tel Aviv on the morning of June 27, "with a visit that we are really looking forward to, but will not be announcing in advance," the press release says enigmatically.
June 27 also sees the prince attending an event at the Beit Ha’ir Museum in Tel Aviv. "On arrival, The Duke will attend a tech innovation demo where he will meet four start-up companies and hear the story behind their products," the press release states. "The Duke will then attend a civil society reception, meeting groups of young people engaged in the fields of youth activism, social impact and the environment."
The rest of the afternoon's itinerary in the West Bank "will include events that focus on the issues facing refugee communities; opportunities to celebrate Palestinian culture, music and food; and a chance to meet a number of young Palestinians. Full details will be announced during the visit," the press release says.
Prince William will deliver the final speech of his visit when he attends a reception at the residence of Consul General Philip Hall in East Jerusalem that evening.
It is the events on June 28 that aroused the ire of Zeev Elkin, Israel's minister of Jerusalem affairs and heritage: "The next day’s programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories will begin with a short briefing on the history and geography of Jerusalem's Old City from a viewing point at the Mount of Olives," it states, adding, "From here His Royal Highness will travel a short distance to the Church of St Mary Magdalene where he will pay his respects at the tomb of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice."
The prince will be following in the footsteps of his father, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and his grandfather, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, when he visits Princess Alice's grave in East Jerusalem. The Greek princess was named a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for her efforts saving a Jewish family during World War II.
The press release concludes by saying that Prince William "is pleased that his programme will allow him to meet a number of people from his own generation and young Jordanians, Israelis, and Palestinians. His Royal Highness is looking forward to learning about their unique perspectives, but also their shared ambitions and hopes for the future."
As if he needed further proof, the furor over the itinerary should show Prince William what a sensitive part of the world he is entering.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now