Analysis: The royal visit to Israel and the Sunni front against Iran

Prince William’s arrival to Israel is a visual manifestation of increasingly converging strategic interests between London, Jerusalem and key Sunni Arab states against Iran’s expansionism.

By: Daniel Krygier, World Israel News

Seventy years after the reestablishment of Israel, Prince William became the first British royal to pay an official visit to the Jewish state. The historic visit breaks a long unofficial British Foreign Office-led boycott against Jerusalem.

During her reign, the British Queen has made over 250 official visits to 129 countries including many Middle Eastern states. However, until recently, one country was conspicuously absent from all royal itineraries: Israel.

While officially a non-political visit, Prince William’s arrival in Israel is a visual manifestation of increasingly converging strategic interests between London, Jerusalem and key Sunni Arab states. As long as Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states opposed any dealings with Israel, the British Foreign Office Arabists steered the Royals away from Israel. However, today, the growing tacit ties between Israel and the Sunni Arab world is one of the Middle East’s worst kept secrets.

Israel, Britain and the Sunni Arab world all see Iran’s Jihad export as a threat that has to be confronted and stopped. As a leading NATO member, Britain supports Washington’s and Jerusalem’s goal to end Iran’s presence in Syria. The emerging cooperation between Israel and the Sunni Arab world against the Iranian regime serves American and British interests in the Middle East. Unlike in the past, the Western powers can protect their regional interests without deploying any significant number of NATO forces to the Middle East.

In his speech, Prince William’s carefully stated reference to security cooperation also applies to Europe. While relations between Brussels and Jerusalem have often been frosty, European-Israeli security and intelligence ties are strong and growing. Israeli intelligence plays an increasingly important role in protecting European societies against Islamist terrorism.

During his visit, Prince William also praised Israel’s large and diverse high tech industry. British-Israeli technological cooperation is thriving and London is clearly interested in expanding its trade relations with the Jewish state. In the past, the British Foreign Office sent members of the royal family to countries with which Britain seeks to expand its political and economic relations.

As a leading European power, Britain also holds the dubious distinction of being a home base to a vocal anti-Israel boycott network. The thriving economic and technological ties between Britain and Israel clearly constitute a blow for the Boycott Divestment Sanction industry.

From an Israeli perspective, the visit of Prince William was largely successful. However, unlike Washington, Britain still does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Over a century ago, the Zionist Jewish leader Chaim Weizmann told Arthur Balfour:

“….we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.”

To which the British statesman replied: “Are there many Jews who think like you?”

Today, the United States and a growing number of countries have recognized this historic truth by moving or intending to move their embassies to the Jewish state’s ancient capital Jerusalem. Perhaps one day Britain, which produced the pro-Zionist Balfour Declaration and the anti-Zionist White Paper, will come to terms with this reality.