Prince William to focus on youth during historic visit to Israel, PA
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Prince William to focus on youth during historic visit to Israel, PA

Palace stresses that first-ever official tour to region by member of British Royal Family will be 'non-political' -- though he will meet with Netanyahu and Abbas

Britain's Prince William waves as he leaves the Lindo wing at St Mary's Hospital in London London, Monday, April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/ Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Britain's Prince William waves as he leaves the Lindo wing at St Mary's Hospital in London London, Monday, April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/ Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Britain’s Prince William will focus on youth during the first-ever visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by a member of Britain’s royal family, the Palace announced Monday, laying out the itinerary for the historic trip that will begin June 24.

The Duke of Cambridge will arrive in Israel on the evening of June 25, after a two-day trip to Jordan, and will also spend time in the Palestinian territories.

“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: their cultures, their young people, their aspirations, and their experiences,” the statement said.

“The Duke’s goal will be to meet as many people from as many walks of life as possible — and to use the spotlight that his visit will bring to celebrate their hopes for the future,” the Palace said. “In particular, he is pleased that his program will allow him to meet a number of people from his own generation, and young Jordanians, Israelis, and Palestinians.”

The prince, the second in line to the British throne, will arrive in Amman on Sunday, June 24. The statement said that he hoped to strengthen the ties between the two countries and their respective Royal families.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis speaks at a National Holocaust Memorial Day event at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on January 26, 2017, in London, England. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

His visit to Israel will include a visit to Yad Vashem, accompanied by the British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. He will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.

He will then travel to Jaffa to meet with young people involved in coexistence organizations, and then travel to Tel Aviv for an event yet to be announced.

The next day he will return to Tel Aviv for a series of events, including “meeting groups of young people engaged in the fields of youth activism, social impact, and the environment.”

The prince will also travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Illustrative: A view over Gethsemane and the Church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem (Sebi Berens/ Flash90)

On his final day, William will visit the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, and pay his respects at the grave of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who is buried in the Church of Mary Magdalene, just outside the walls of the Old City.

Although no member of the Royal family has officially visited Israel, and none has officially visited the Holy Land since the 1880s, William’s grandfather Prince Philip, his father Charles, and his uncle Edward have all made private visits to Israel, and paid their respects at Princess Alice’s grave.

The palace did not announce whether William would visit the Old City and its holy sites, but left the possibility open, stressing that the trip would “allow His Royal Highness to understand and pay respect to the religions and history of the region.”

A private tour allows visiting dignitaries to tour sites in the Old City, which is across the Green Line in East Jerusalem, while sidestepping the prickly issue of recognizing a sovereign to have an official accompany them. US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulchre last year was officially listed as a private visit.

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