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Prince William Arrives in Israel for Historic Royal Visit

Though the trip is being billed as non-political, and places a special emphasis on technology and joint Israeli-Arab projects, William will also be meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and visiting landmark Jerusalem sites at the heart of the century-old conflict.

AFP

Updated:June 26, 2018, 8:13 AM IST
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Prince William Arrives in Israel for Historic Royal Visit
Britain's Prince William enters a vehicle upon his arrival at the Ben Gurion International Airport, near Lod, Israel, June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Jerusalem: Prince William has arrived in Israel for the first-ever official visit of a member of the British royal family to the tumultuous region London once ruled.

Arriving from neighboring Jordan, the Duke of Cambridge landed at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday and then departed to Jerusalem, where he will stay at the elegant King David Hotel, site of the former administrative headquarters of the British mandate.

Three decades of British rule between the two world wars helped establish some of the fault lines of today's Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Britain's withdrawal in 1948 led to the eventual establishment of Israel and Jordan.

Britain has since taken a back seat to the United States in mediating peace efforts, and the royal family has mostly steered clear of the region's toxic politics.

For the 36-year-old William, second in line to the throne, it marks a high-profile visit that could burnish his international credentials.

Though the trip is being billed as non-political, and places a special emphasis on technology and joint Israeli-Arab projects, William will also be meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and visiting landmark Jerusalem sites at the heart of the century-old conflict.

Today, he will visit Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where he will meet two survivors who escaped Nazi Germany for the safety of Britain. The memorial has recognized Prince William's great-grandmother, Princess Alice, as Righteous Among the Nations for her role in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust.

In a 1994 visit to Yad Vashem, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, planted a tree there in his mother's honour.

Princess Alice hid three members of the Cohen family in her palace in Athens during the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II. Thanks to her, the Cohen family survived and today lives in France. The princess died in 1969, and in 1988 her remains were brought to Jerusalem.

Later, the prince will meet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before heading to coastal Tel Aviv to attend a football game of young Jewish and Arab players. He'll also meet the mayor of Tel Aviv and attend a reception the British ambassador is holding in his honour.

"It is the right moment we think for a visit to really shine a light on that relationship and show how strong the contemporary relationship is between the two countries," Ambassador David Quarrey told The Associated Press.

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