William plans historic visit to Occupied Palestinian Territories

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The Duke of Cambridge is to make a historic official trip to Israel, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kensington Palace has said.

It is the first time an official visit has been made to the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family, the palace said.

The royal tour this summer will be the most sensitive the Duke – who is now a full-time royal – has ever undertaken.

The palace said the visit is at the request of the Government and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.

Further details will be announced in due course.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted that the arrival of William on the country’s 70th anniversary of independence was a “very special present”.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said it was an “important and unique opportunity to promote diplomatic and cultural ties in the region”.

The Queen’s cousin, the Duke of Gloucester, visited the St John eye clinic in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2007, but this was not considered an official visit, a Kensington Palace spokesman said.

William will also be the most high-profile British royal to make an official tour to Israel.

The Prince of Wales attended the funerals of both former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and former president Shimon Peres, but at the time the visits were not considered part of an official tour.

After Mr Peres’s funeral in 2016, Charles made a poignant visit to see his grandmother’s final resting place for the first time.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, is buried at the picturesque Church of St Mary Magdalene, above the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.

The princess died in 1969 and her remains first lay in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

But her final wish was to be buried at the Russian orthodox convent on the Mount of Olives, near her aunt Elizabeth, the Grand Duchess of Russia, who was murdered by the Bolsheviks and declared a Russian Orthodox saint.

Philip visited his mother’s grave in 1994 when he travelled to Israel for a ceremony honouring her for saving Greek Jews during the Second World War.

The Duke of Gloucester made an official visit to Jerusalem in 2007 and the Duke of Kent to Tel Aviv in 1998, the palace said.

According to the Court Circular, the Earl of Wessex also carried out engagement in Jerusalem in 2007 – including visiting the Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives.

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, welcomed William’s visit.

“There can be few better ways to mark the 70th Yom Ha’atzmaut than the announcement the HRH the Duke of Cambridge is to visit Israel,” he said.

“I am personally thrilled and delighted.”

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