In the last week of June, the Duke of Cambridge William visited both Palestinian Territories and Israel. He is the first British royal to officially visit, making history. The purpose of the trip was to enhance cultural and diplomatic ties. During the visit, the royal visited historic sites and cultural institutions; it is also noted that he also visited the tomb of his great-grandmother.
First Prince William visited Israel, and then Palestine. The visit was encouraged by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, who asked for the Duke to come to the Middle East and talk to the Palestinian president. Rivlin claimed the visit would be “writing a new page in history.” The intentions of the Duke and the Israeli president have been questioned by the public since many of Israel’s actions in fact show a disregard or a lack of commitment towards a two-state solution.
Many local Palestinians in refugee communities were happy with the visit. Yet, many people felt the visit was more for Israel’s gains because of its president’s request. Britain has no direct ties to Palestine and did not really do anything majorly positive for/with Palestine. Though, Prince William stated: “I’m very glad our two countries work so closely together and have had success stories with education and relief work in the past, so, long may that continue. My sentiment’s the same as yours in hoping there’s a lasting peace for the region.” This is contradicting historically since Britain’s Belfour Declaration of 1917 significantly helped the initial establishment of Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine, let everyone know again that he is willing to have a two-state solution, as according to previous agreements. Many events occurred that hindered the advancements to a solution, including the Six Day War, and the movement of the American embassy from Tel Aviv — the capital of Israel — to Jerusalem, which many believe is the capital of Palestine, both religiously and culturally.
It is known that Britain is America’s number one ally, and Israel is an ally of the United States. This put the motives of Britain contributing peacefully to a two-state solution into question. Recent actions from Israel and America have both appeared to lack commitment to a two-state solution. On the contrary, the advancements of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian state and further occupation has occurred, in addition to the movement of the embassy.
The 36-year-old future king told the Palestinian people that they have not been forgotten: “My message tonight is that you have not been forgotten. It has been a very powerful experience to meet you and other Palestinians living in the West Bank and to hear your stories.” tweet
Many, including Professor Kamel Hawwash of Birmingham University, argued that if William sought to actively help the conditions of Palestine, that he would actually visit Gaza, a war-stricken area in dire need of humanitarian aid. He also argued that Prince William, to show support, should have visited the home of the late Razan Al-Najjar.
What’s also questionable is the previous British policy of forbidding royals to visit Israel and Palestine (ever since the Belfour Declaration). If Britain is willing to be a contributing nation to resolve the conflict after the visit, what will change with their policies? Has anything changed politically with Britain that’s gone unannounced?
The 36-year-old future king told the Palestinian people that they have not been forgotten: “My message tonight is that you have not been forgotten. It has been a very powerful experience to meet you and other Palestinians living in the West Bank and to hear your stories.”
It is hard for anything the Duke does not to be criticized because of Britain’s obvious stances and history with both Israel and Palestine. Regardless, he confirmed: “I know I share a desire with all of you, and with your neighbours, for a just and lasting peace.”