Prince William begins controversial visit to Israel, Palestinian territories

Prince William begins controversial visit to Israel, Palestinian territories
2 min read
25 June, 2018
The official visit marks the first time a royal family member makes an official visit to both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories.
Prince William visits a women's charity in Amman [Getty]

Britain's Prince William arrived in Israel on Monday, the first member of the royal family to make an official visit to both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The prince's plane landed from Jordan at Ben Gurion Airport around 6:00 pm local time. 

He will stay in Jerusalem at the King David Hotel, former headquarters of the British administration during the mandate in Palestine before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Rights groups have criticised the visit, saying Israeli leaders will use it to mask human rights violations against Palestinians. 

"This visit by Prince William reinforces the UK government’s historic policy of turning a blind eye to gross violations of human rights when they are committed by the Israeli government," said Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in a press release.

Since March, when protests demanding the right of refugees to return broke out along the Israel-Gaza separation fence, at least 145 Palestinians have been killed by live fire.

No Israelis have been killed since the demonstrations began.  

Prince William's itinerary includes lay a wreath at the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem on Tuesday, before meeting separately with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

The following day he is scheduled to meet Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, before meeting Palestinian refugees and young people.

Prince William is scheduled to complete his stay by visiting historical and religious sites in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Other members of the royal family, such as the Dukes of Gloucester or Kent, cousins ​​of the Queen, have made official visits to Israel in the past.

But none was as prominent as William and none had visited the Palestinian territories in an official capacity.

The contentious trip attracted significant attention earlier this month after Kensington Palace released Prince William's itinerary. Its reference to the "Occupied Palestinian Territories", though in line with UN resolutions, is uncommon language for Western officials to employ. 

At the time Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin slammed the prince for the word choice.

"It is regrettable that in Britain they chose to politicise the royal visit," Elkin said, according to Israeli news website Ynet.

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