Prince William heading to Israel

PRINCE William, the Duke of Cambridge, is set too make history as the first ever member of the Royal Family to pay a state visit to Israel.

It was announced on Thursday by Kensington Palace that the second-in-line to the throne will travel to the Jewish State, the West Bank and Jordan  in an official capacity scheduled in the next few months.

The statement did not specify whether the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, will be joining Prince William, but noted he would be going during the northern hemisphere’s summer.

Members of the Royal Family have visited the country in a private capacity in the past. William’s great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, a Righteous Among The Nations, is buried on the Mount of Olives. Her grave has been visited by her son, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Charles, meanwhile, attended the funerals of both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

However, there has never been a state visit and it’s been widely speculated that the British Foreign Office was responsible for the royal boycott, fearful of upsetting relations with the Arab world.

A statement posted by the British Embassy in Israel noted that the visit,“is at the request of Her Majesty’s Government and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities”.”

Expressing his delight, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We welcome the announcement about Prince William’s arrival here in Israel – the first of its kind. He will be received here with open arms.”

The sentiment was echoed by President Reuven Rivlin, who tweeted, “Nechama & I were happy to hear @KensingtonRoyal announcement, and look forward to welcoming #PrinceWilliam, the Duke of Cambridge, on an official visit to the State of #Israel later this year. A very special guest, and a very special present for our 70th year of independence.”

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashram also welcomed the announcement, “Prince William, who accepted an invitation from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a welcome guest, not just of the leadership but of the Palestinian people who will provide him with the opportunity to share their stories first-hand and connect on a human level.” she said.

Welcoming the announcement, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said,  “We are delighted that in the year of Israel’s 70th anniversary, the Duke of Cambridge will be making the first official royal visit to the country.

“This is something I have been calling for for a long time. The visit is testimony to the fact that the United Kingdom and Israel are key allies with a strong trading relationship and close cultural links. This visit will bring our two nations even closer together.”