Britain’s Prince William to make first royal visit to Israel, Palestine

Jerusalem: Britain’s Prince William will visit Israel and Palestine in the summer, marking the first official visit by a British royal member to the region, British and Israeli officials said on Thursday.

“The Duke of Cambridge will visit Israel, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories in the summer,” Xinhua quoted the Kensington Palace as saying.

“The visit is at the request of Her Majesty’s Government and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities,” it noted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the first-ever visit of a British royal to the Jewish state.

“This is a historic visit, the first of its kind, and he will be welcomed here with great affection,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

The prime minister said he has instructed the foreign ministry to coordinate the preparations for the visit “to ensure its success.”

Meanwhile, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Twitter that he was glad to hear the announcement.

The Duke of Cambridge is “a very special guest and a very special present for our 70th year of independence,” he noted.

Israel has extended several invitations to British royals but none has accepted the offer until now.

Prince Charles has visited Israel twice, for the funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and late President Shimon Peres. However, both Buckingham Palace and the British government stressed they were private visits.

The British government objects to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.