Prince William’s visit to ‘occupied’ Jerusalem generates controversy

Kensington Palace has announced that William’s visit to Jerusalem will be a part of his official visit to the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” An Israeli minister is demanding that the “distorted” itinerary be amended.

By: World Israel News Staff

Prince William, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson and second-in-line to the throne, will become the first British royal to pay an official visit to Israel when he lands in the Jewish state on Monday.

While the tour is being marketed as “non-political,” the itinerary is already causing controversy.

Jason Knauf, the prince’s communications secretary, underscored the “non-political” nature of the visit.

“The non-political nature of his royal highness’s role—in common with all royal visits overseas—allows a spotlight to be brought to bear on the people of the region,” Knauf said.

The Hebrew statement issued by the British Embassy in Tel Aviv announcing the visit said that the prince will visit “the Palestinian Authority,” while the English statement said he will visit “the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Furthermore, Kensington Palace announced that William’s visit to Jerusalem will be a part of his official visit to the PA, even though it is Israel’s capital.

“The next day’s programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories will begin with a short briefing on the history and geography of Jerusalem’s Old City from a viewing point at the Mount of Olives,” the itinerary published by the palace last Monday says.

Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin demanded that the “distorted” itinerary be amended.

“It is regrettable that in Britain they have chosen to politicize the royal visit,” Elkin said, according to Ynet. “United Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for more than 3,000 years and no distortion in the tour itinerary will change that reality.”

He said that he expects “the prince’s people to correct the distortion.”

During the four-day tour, the prince will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, accompanied by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Also on the agenda is the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and the tomb of William’s great-grandmother, Princess Alice. His father Prince Charles and grandfather Prince Philip have visited the site during trips considered “private.”

Charles was in Israel twice for the funerals of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and President Shimon Peres.

William’s detailed itinerary has yet to be published. An Israeli source in Jerusalem told Ynet that he suspects the UK fears the controversy it is bound to generate.

“William’s visit to the holy sites was scheduled a long time ago,” the source said. “William is expected to become the king of the United Kingdom one day, and he will also serve as supreme governor of the Church of England as part of his position. So, clearly, these sites were included in the visit’s itinerary to begin with. Why isn’t the palace announcing them yet? They’re likely trying to avoid a political war over the issue of control of the holy sites.”