Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, will make the first-ever official royal visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories during summer 2018.
According to Kensington Palace, the visit is at the request of Her Majesty's Government. The specific date of the visit has not yet been specified. His wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is not scheduled to accompany him.
The Hebrew-language press release announcing the visit referred to the "Palestinian Authority," while a tweet released by the Kensington Palace's official Twitter handle referred to the "Occupied Palestinian Territories." The British Embassy clarified that the translation is consistent with their terminology.
"We welcome the announcement on the arrival of Prince William to Israel. This is a historic visit, the first of its kind, and it will be greeted here with great affection," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the announcement. "I have instructed the Foreign Ministry director general to coordinate the preparations ahead of the visit in order to ensure its success."
Responding to the announcement, Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “His Royal Highness’ upcoming visit to Israel is wonderful news. We are delighted that the Prince will embark on this historic visit and know the people of Israel will welcome him with open arms. As the Jewish state celebrates its 70th anniversary, there can be no more fitting a tribute to cement the bond between these two countries than the first official visit by a senior member of the Royal Family to the Israel.”
William's father, Charles, the Prince of Wales, visited Israel in a non-official capacity in 2016 for former President Shimon Peres' funeral. While in Jerusalem, he paid a secret visit to the grave of his paternal grandmother at the Church of Mary Magdalene at the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem.
Princess Alice of Battenberg is the mother of Charles' father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the longest serving royal consort in British history.
Charles' visit to the grave went unreported in the Israeli media, and neither his Facebook page nor his press team released a statement about it. The visit's sensitivity stems from restrictions imposed by the British royal house on official visits to Israel.
Another reason it was kept discreet is that the burial site is in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured during the Six-Day War and later annexed, but Britain does not recognize it as part of Israel.
Prince Charles stirred unrest recently when a letter he penned in 1986 came into light in November 2017, revealing that he blamed the "influx of foreign Jews" for tension in the Middle East, and asked the U.S. president to stand up to the "Jewish lobby," reported the Daily Mail.
Prince Charles has come under fire for the letter, with some calling the usage of the phrase "Jewish lobby" anti-Semitic.
The letter's text reads, "I now appreciate that Arabs and Jews were all a Semitic people originally and it is the influx of foreign, European Jews (especially from Poland, they say) which has helped to cause great problems. I know there are so many complex issues, but how can there ever be an end to terrorism unless the causes are eliminated? Surely some U.S. president has to have the courage to stand up and take on the Jewish lobby in U.S.? I must be naive, I suppose!"
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