Prince William walks into diplomatic storm on royal visit as Israeli minister slams organisers 'for claiming Jerusalem's Old City is in the Occupied Palestinian Territories'

  • Prince William has landed in Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport and will now travel on to Jerusalem for start of trip
  • Four-day visit to Middle East will include a visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories
  • Earlier today he visited the ruins of a Roman settlement in Jordan where his wife was pictured as a child
  • It is the first-ever official visit by a member of the royal family to Israel and the Palestinian territories

Prince William made history in Israel as his plane touched down in Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport

Prince William made history in Israel as his plane touched down in Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport

Prince William has taken his first historic steps on Israeli soil, becoming the only member of the British royal family to visit the Jewish state in an official capacity.

His Royal Air Force plane landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport at 6.16pm local time and he will now travel on to Jerusalem for a four-day trip that will include a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories.

He was met by Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, British ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey and the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev.

However, the Prince's arrival caused a diplomatic stir just hours after the plane touched down.

The itinerary includes Jerusalem's Old City as part the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In a statement to launch the trip Kensington Palace had said a day 'in the Occupied Palestinian Territories will begin with a short briefing on the history and geography of Jerusalem's Old City from a viewing point at the Mount of Olives'.

Many countries do not recognise Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem where the Old City and many holy sites sacred to a number of religions are found.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin reportedly told Israeli website Ynet news: 'It is regrettable that in Britain they chose to politicise the royal visit.

'United Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and no distortion in the tour itinerary can change that reality.' 

Prince William will stay at the King David Hotel in historic Jerusalem, once the scene of an horrific terror attack in 1946 by Zionist paramilitary group the Irgun, for the remainder of the trip.

Upon arrival, hotel bosses have instructed staff to make  scones, with clotted cream and strawberry jam for the Duke of Cambridge as a welcome gift.

Following a relatively relaxed start to his visit to the Middle East, which included watching England V Panama with Jordan's Crown Prince and a drinks reception last night, William will now begin his historic tour of the West Bank.

The Duke of Cambridge will also meet with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah at a time of widening rifts between the two sides.    

On Tuesday the Prince, the second-in-line to the British throne, 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. 

Kensington Palace has underlined the 'non-political nature of His Royal Highness's role - in common with all royal visits overseas', but the region is a minefield of sensitivities 

Kensington Palace has underlined the 'non-political nature of His Royal Highness's role - in common with all royal visits overseas', but the region is a minefield of sensitivities 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge inspects an air ambulance at Marka Airport  in Amman, Jordan, hours before he headed to Tel Aviv on Monday

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge inspects an air ambulance at Marka Airport in Amman, Jordan, hours before he headed to Tel Aviv on Monday

Later this week Prince William will head to Tel Aviv to attend a football game of young Jewish and Arab players.

'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.

'The Duke is very clear that he wants to come and get under the skin of the country, he wants to get a feel for Israel. He wants to get a flavor of the country.' 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge arrives at Ben Gurion airport to undertake a four day official visit to Israel as he becomes the first member of the Royal family to make an official visit 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge arrives at Ben Gurion airport to undertake a four day official visit to Israel as he becomes the first member of the Royal family to make an official visit 

Prince William has taken his first historic steps on Israeli soil, becoming the only member of the British royal family to officially visit the Jewish state. His Royal Air Force plane landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport at 4.16pm local time and he will now travel on to Jerusalem at the start of four-day trip that will include a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories

Prince William has taken his first historic steps on Israeli soil, becoming the only member of the British royal family to officially visit the Jewish state. His Royal Air Force plane landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport at 4.16pm local time and he will now travel on to Jerusalem at the start of four-day trip that will include a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories

Prince William's Royal Air Force plane has landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport and he will now travel on to Jerusalem

The decision by the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last month sparked the worst wave of violence for four years and left 60 Palestinians dead and more than 2,000 injured.

Last week Israeli forces launched air strikes on Palestinian militant positions in the Gaza strip after rockets and motors were fired into Israel.

During his visit to the country, William will visit the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre and lay a wreath where the ashes of victims are buried.

He will also visit Jerusalem's Old City and the grave of his great- grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, Prince Philip's mother. 

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. 

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

The prince will also cross the border into Palestine to visit Ramallah on the West Bank, where he will focus on issues facing refugee communities and meet President Abbas.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: 'The historic nature of this tour is, of course, important and the Duke of Cambridge considers it a great privilege to be undertaking the first ever official royal tour of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.'

A diplomatic source said the UK was keen to get a royal tour under their belt in the hope it would pave the way for further visits to the region, highlighting the fact that the issues between Israel and Palestine are far from resolved. 

Kensington Palace has underlined the 'non-political nature of His Royal Highness's role - in common with all royal visits overseas', but the region is a minefield of sensitivities.

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

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict typically looms large, even during largely ceremonial visits, and the Duke of Cambridge will have to maneuver carefully to avoid missteps.

Last week, an Israeli Cabinet minister complained about the royal itinerary's reference to Jerusalem as part of the 'Occupied Palestinian Territories,' calling it a 'distortion of reality'. 

Meanwhile, the Palestinians claimed the trip was an 'indirect apology' for Britain's role in the region, reports The Telegraph

The prince will stay at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem for the rest of the trip.It is the site of the former administrative headquarters of the British mandate and was the scene of an horrific terror attack on July 22, 1946 by Zionist paramilitary group the Irgun.

The bombing destroyed the entire south side of the hotel - which had been used as the central offices of the British Mandatory authorities of Palestine - claiming the lives of 92 people, including scores of British soldiers.

The Director of Operations at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Sheldon Ritz this week told Jewish News that the Prince will take one of the three suites on the top floor, either the Jerusalem Suite, the Royal Suite or the Presidential Suite, which all face the Old City.

On his arrival hotel bosses have instructed staff to 'make some scones, with clotted cream and strawberry jam' for the Duke as a welcome gift. The Duke's Middle East trip concludes on Thursday.

The Duke of Cambridge has followed in the footsteps of his wife by visiting the ruins of a Roman settlement in Jordan

The Duke of Cambridge has followed in the footsteps of his wife by visiting the ruins of a Roman settlement in Jordan

Earlier today the Duke of Cambridge revealed how his wife is saddened to be missing his trip to the Middle East Jordan as 'she really loved' Jordan, where he started his visit, when she lived there for three years as a child.

Kate's family moved to Jordan in May 1984 when she was aged two and her sister Pippa was just eight months old, after father Michael, a British Airways manager, relocated to the Jordanian capital of Amman for work.

The Duchess of Cambridge has not accompanied her husband on the trip as she is on maternity leave following the birth of their third child, Prince Louis. Speaking to a charity boss, William said: 'She loved it here, she really did. She is very upset that I am coming here without her.'

The Prince visited the Jerash archaeological site this morning and was photographed at the same spot where his wife was once pictured playing when she lived in the country as a four-year-old.

A picture of a young duchess with her father and sister at the famous Roman ruins at the Jordanian city of Jerash was released before her 2011 wedding 

A picture of a young duchess with her father and sister at the famous Roman ruins at the Jordanian city of Jerash was released before her 2011 wedding 

Organisers of the Prince's visit had placed a large picture of the Duchess of Cambridge as a child pictured with her father and younger sister some 30 years previously.

William, 36, was walking with Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein, 23, when he spotted the large photo, a copy of which was released to the public just before the Cambridges married in 2011.

The second in line to the throne made a joke about his father-in-law, telling the Crown Prince: 'Michael's looking very smart in his flip-flops.'

He posed for a picture at the same spot, telling photographers: 'We'll have to bring the kids next time.'

The Duke of Cambridge has followed in the footsteps of his wife by visiting the ruins of a Roman settlement in Jordan as he continues his tour of the Middle East. He is pictured with the Crown Prince of Jordan at the site this morning, looking at the photo of the Duchess, her father and her sister visiting the site in the 1980s

The Duke of Cambridge has followed in the footsteps of his wife by visiting the ruins of a Roman settlement in Jordan as he continues his tour of the Middle East. He is pictured with the Crown Prince of Jordan at the site this morning, looking at the photo of the Duchess, her father and her sister visiting the site in the 1980s

Samia Khouri, director of museums at the Jordan's Department of Antiquities, guided the two princes around the sprawling site during a half-hour tour. She said: 'He was very surprised when he saw the photo he did not expect that. But that's why he was here, because he wanted to take a photo at the same spot where Kate was photographed.' 

The Duke spent last night watching England v Panama on catch up at the home of the Crown Prince of Jordan in Amman, after asking journalists travelling with him on the plane: 'On pain of death, please don't tell me the score!'

THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE'S TIME IN JORDAN

Kate's family moved to Jordan in May 1984 when she was aged two and her sister Pippa was just eight months old, after father Michael, a British Airways manager, relocated to the Jordanian capital of Amman for work.

The duchess went to an English language nursery while her parents were in the country for almost three years, before they returned to Berkshire in 1986. 

At a reception at the British Embassy in Amman last night, Prince William praised the 'historic ties and friendship' between Britain and Jordan and said that his wife the Duchess of Cambridge spent almost three years in Jordan as a child when her father worked there for British Airways.

Kate's family moved to Jordan in May 1984 when she was aged two and her sister Pippa was just eight months old. She went to an English language nursery while her parents were in the country for almost three years, before they returned to Berkshire in 1986.

The Duke said she was 'very sorry' that she was not able to join him on the trip so soon after the April birth of their son Louis, later gushing about how much she 'loved' living in Jordan as a child. 

William met Rania Malki, chief executive of Save The Children in Jordan, during the evening reception at the British Embassy.

The charity boss said she knew the house where the Duchess lived while she was in Jordan because it is now the home of her children's paediatrician.

'No way!' the duke replied. 'She will be thrilled. She loved it here, she really did. She is very upset that I am coming here without her.'     

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, talks to some of the children that showed off their art and performed for the visitors

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, talks to some of the children that showed off their art and performed for the visitors

The Duke of Cambridge, wearing a shirt and blazer, and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan, wearing a casual t-shirt and open blazer, watch a theatrical performance during a visit to the Jerash archaeological site in Jordan

The Duke of Cambridge, wearing a shirt and blazer, and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan, wearing a casual t-shirt and open blazer, watch a theatrical performance during a visit to the Jerash archaeological site in Jordan

The Duke of Cambridge (centre) and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan (right) pose for a photograph with local children during a visit to the Jerash archaeological site in Jordan. The children performed a short piece, much to the delight of the two princes

The Duke of Cambridge (centre) and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan (right) pose for a photograph with local children during a visit to the Jerash archaeological site in Jordan. The children performed a short piece, much to the delight of the two princes

Following a relatively relaxed start to the controversial trip, later today Prince William will begin a historic tour of the West Bank - the first-ever official visit by a member of the royal family to Israel and the Palestinian territories

Following a relatively relaxed start to the controversial trip, later today Prince William will begin a historic tour of the West Bank - the first-ever official visit by a member of the royal family to Israel and the Palestinian territories

Today, in Jerash's well-preserved amphitheatre, the duke and Crown Prince met refugee Syrian mothers and their children who are being supported by the Makani programme, a nationwide charity that works with those from deprived backgrounds, especially refugee communities.

Sat on a chair and surrounded by the women and youngsters, he patiently chatted to one mother through an interpreter, asking where she was from in Syria, what the education provision was like for her child and her hopes for the future.

He told her at the end: 'Very nice to meet you and I hope one day you go back to Syria.'

When a little girl came up to him he asked her age and when told she was five, replied: 'My little boy is called George, he's five as well.'

Some older children had performed a welcome dance for the royals when they arrived and William and Hussein later admired some art work they had done before leaving. 

Prince William is touring the ruins of the Roman city of Jerash, a major tourist attraction and a spot his wife visited as a child when her family lived in the kingdom in the 1980s

Prince William is touring the ruins of the Roman city of Jerash, a major tourist attraction and a spot his wife visited as a child when her family lived in the kingdom in the 1980s

Later today he will visit the Jordan Armed Forces Arab Army base to see how UK armed forces are working with the Jordanian military

The 36-year-old William is on the second day of a five-day Mideast tour that also takes him to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In Jordan, he is being hosted by Crown Prince Hussein, who is 2

The 36-year-old William is on the second day of a five-day Mideast tour that also takes him to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In Jordan, he is being hosted by Crown Prince Hussein, who is 2

Later William tucked into local fresh bread. He visited the Da Na'mah centre in Kufranjah, which offers support and education for orphaned Jordanian women.

He was shown around the site by Dr Aghadeer Jweihan who was described as the 'mother' of the organisation. The prince went into a room to see the process of felt being made which is then sold to tourists in Amman.

Taking hold of a small green ball of felt, he said: 'They look like Brussels sprouts.'

The prince was then shown a processes used by the women to make herbal oils before going on to watch local breads fatayer and taboon being baked on site. Crouching down to watch the breads being fried he was told that the woman was using a recipe passed on by her grandma.

After popping a piece in his mouth he said: 'Very good. Your grandmother taught you very well.'

Later William visited the Da Na'mah centre in Kufranjah, which offers support and education for orphaned Jordanian women

Later William visited the Da Na'mah centre in Kufranjah, which offers support and education for orphaned Jordanian women

The prince was then shown a processes used by the women to make herbal oils before going on to watch local breads fatayer and taboon being baked on site

The prince was then shown a processes used by the women to make herbal oils before going on to watch local breads fatayer and taboon being baked on site

Crouching down to watch the breads being fried he was told that the woman was using a recipe passed on by her grandma. After popping a piece in his mouth he said: 'Very good. Your grandmother taught you very well'

Crouching down to watch the breads being fried he was told that the woman was using a recipe passed on by her grandma. After popping a piece in his mouth he said: 'Very good. Your grandmother taught you very well'

The centre was founded in 2010 to help women in Jordan who have no family and struggle to find support after turning 18. William was then introduced to Lana Muslam, 29, who was abandoned as a baby, and was raised in an orphanage, he said: 'The story is very hard to hear, everything that you have been through. You are doing wonderful things here.'

On leaving the site, which was built in 2010 by the women using a mix of mud and straw, he made a promise to return with his wife Kate.

Prince William later tried his hand at making a Frappuccino - but admitted he lacked artistic flourish.

The future king was asked to drizzle the top of the creamy coffee confection with vanilla syrup and while he gamely agreed, he admitted: 'I wasn't too good at art at school. Well it looks good enough anyway. Someone drink it for me, will you?'

The prince was visiting Al Quds, a vocational training college with impressive facilities and links to Middlesex University in the Jordanian capital.

The school offers courses in everything from hospitality to hair and beauty, film and audio engineering.

The site in Amman has around 5,000 students enrolled a year, of which some 50 per cent are Syrian and Palestinian refugees who have their education paid for by donors.

His first stop was the audio engineering department which boasts a magnificent £1.5 million sound and mixing deck made in Manchester. William marvelled at the 1,000 plus knobs as Indie Rock band Random House played in a soundproof studio.

'I guess once you know your way round it gets easier,' he told tutor Tareq Mirza, 33. He added: 'I could play with this all day. It makes me really want to go back to university.'

He also stopped off to watch film students Yazan Nofal, 25, and Medina Hawashin who were performing in an original screenplay set in the 1970s. The prince was even persuaded to shout 'action'.

He finally stopped off at the hospitality centre, which mimics a five star hotel, where he tried his hand at finishing off the Frappuccino but declined to try it. 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visits the Dar Na'mah Centre - a project of the Princess Taghrid Institute (PTI) in Amman, Jordan 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visits the Dar Na'mah Centre - a project of the Princess Taghrid Institute (PTI) in Amman, Jordan 

The Prince got to know women helped by the PTI. The institute is a charity set up by Princess Taghrid to support women of all ages to develop their own livelihoods and thereby support their families and communities

Prince William stopped for a cup of tea and a chat while he visited Amman, Jordan. He met local women helped by a trust set up by the Princess Taghrid Institute (PTI)

Prince William stopped for a cup of tea and a chat while he visited Amman, Jordan. He met local women helped by a trust set up by the Princess Taghrid Institute (PTI)

The Duke of Cambridge (left) and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan during a visiti to the Jerash archaeological site in Jordan

The Duke of Cambridge (left) and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan during a visiti to the Jerash archaeological site in Jordan

Prince William shakes hands as he visits vocational training college Al Quds, which has links to Middlesex University

Prince William shakes hands as he visits vocational training college Al Quds, which has links to Middlesex University

Students and wellwishers take photos as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visits vocational training college Al Quds

Students and wellwishers take photos as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visits vocational training college Al Quds

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said she welcomes William's visit to the West Bank as a chance to see Palestinian reality under Israeli occupation first hand. 'This visit is the first of its kind and represents an opportunity to enhance relations between Prince William and the Palestinian people on all the levels,' she said.

William is visiting a region where three decades of British rule between the two world wars helped establish some of the fault lines of today's Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Britain's withdrawal from the region after World War II led to the eventual establishment of Israel and Jordan.

Jordan's ruling Hashemite dynasty has strong ties to Britain. The second marriage of the late King Hussein was to a British citizen, Antoinette Gardiner, who took the title Princess Muna and is the mother of the current monarch, King Abdullah II. 

Hussein, Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein all attended Sandhurst, the British military academy, as did William.

Prince William spent last night watching England v Panama on catch up at the home of the Crown Prince of Jordan in Amman, after asking journalists travelling with him on the plane: ‘On pain of death, please don’t tell me the score!’

Prince William spent last night watching England v Panama on catch up at the home of the Crown Prince of Jordan in Amman, after asking journalists travelling with him on the plane: 'On pain of death, please don't tell me the score!'

Prince William and the Crown Prince of Jordan enjoying some refreshments while watching the World Cup game on an enormous TV screen

Prince William and the Crown Prince of Jordan enjoying some refreshments while watching the World Cup game on an enormous TV screen

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: 'The historic nature of this tour is of course important and the duke considers it a great privilege to be undertaking the first ever official royal tour of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to be able to help further strengthen the friendship between Jordan and the United Kingdom.'     

The visit comes at a particularly volatile time after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved Washington's embassy there, sparking Arab outrage and deadly clashes.

But diplomatic sources say it is 'about time' the trip went ahead and hope it will pave the way for further visits.

This morning he visited Jerash, which lies on a plain surrounded by woodland and fertile basins and has been inhabited for more than 6,500 years.

Its imposing ceremonial gates, colonnades, soaring temples and theatres all date back to 63 BC, when it was conquered by General Pompey.

Under Roman rule Jerash - then known as Gerasa - enjoyed something of a golden age with wide, paved avenues, handsome theatres and public squares, plazas, baths and fountains.

He has two further engagements in Amman today before flying to to Israel this afternoon.

Prince William speaking at the British Embassy in Amman on Sunday. He praised the 'historic ties and friendship' between Britain and Jordan

Prince William speaking at the British Embassy in Amman on Sunday. He praised the 'historic ties and friendship' between Britain and Jordan

WHERE IS THE ANCIENT CITY OF JERASH?

The ancient city of Jerash in Jordan boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years.

Jerash lies on a plain surrounded by hilly wooded areas and fertile basins. Conquered by General Pompey in 63 BC, it came under Roman rule and was one of the ten great Roman cities of the Decapolis League.

The city's golden age came under Roman rule, during which time it was known as Gerasa, and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world.

Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash is a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates.

Beneath its external Graeco - Roman veneer, Jerash also preserves a subtle blend of east and west. Its architecture, religion and languages reflect a process by which two powerful cultures meshed and coexisted - The Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the traditions of the Arab Orient.

The modern city of Jerash can be found to the east of the ruins. While the old and new share a city wall, careful preservation and planning has seen the city itself develop well away from the ruins so there is no encroachment on the sites of old.

 Source: Visit Jordan

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