Prince William to visit Palestinian Territories, Israel in June

London (AFP) –


Prince William will be the first senior British royal to make an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, as part of a tour in June announced by Kensington Palace on Friday.

William will begin his tour in Jordan on June 24 and travel on to Tel Aviv the following day, the palace, his official residence, said in a statement.

He will visit Jerusalem on June 26 and then go on to Ramallah on June 27.

The visit by the second in line to the throne "is at the request of Her Majesty's government and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities", the statement said.

There have been no previous official visits by members of the British royal family to the Palestinian Territories.

William will also be the first close relation of Queen Elizabeth II to make an official visit to Israel, following trips made previously by the monarch's cousins the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Gloucester.

Other foreign trips made by royals, such as attendance at funerals or weddings, were not made at the request of Britain's Foreign Office and were therefore not classed as official visits.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that the British royal's trip would be "a historic visit" to his country.

The invitation to the royals was extended by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, during a working visit to Jerusalem in March 2017.

In London later in the year the two countries' leaders celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which played a key role in the creation of the state of Israel.

Written by Britain's then foreign minister, the declaration announced the UK's backing for the establishment within Palestine, then a region of the Ottoman Empire, of "a national home for the Jewish people".

It shocked the Arab world and has always been condemned by the Palestinians, who held rallies to protest the anniversary.

William and his wife Kate have boosted the popularity of British royals in recent years, helped by their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.