Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 February 2020

Prince Charles to visit Palestine amid calls for UK recognition

The heir to the British throne will also visit Israel

Britain's Charles, the Prince of Wales, will travel to Palestine for his first official royal visit. EPA
Britain's Charles, the Prince of Wales, will travel to Palestine for his first official royal visit. EPA

Prince Charles is set to make a landmark trip to the occupied Palestinian territories this week amid calls for the UK to recognise the state of Palestine.

Charles, who is the most senior British royal to visit the occupied territories, will begin his two-day visit in Israel on Thursday where he will meet with Holocaust survivors at an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The heir to the throne will travel to Bethlehem on Friday where he will be received by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and will carry out engagements which reflect “Bethlehem’s historic religious significance”, Clarence House said.

Earlier this week, a group of British MPs signed a letter urging the government to recognise Palestine adding that Israel’s actions were “pushing a two-state solution beyond reach”.

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said Charles’ visit marked a milestone but was unlikely to inspire much hope for the Palestinian people.

“For the Palestinians, it’s all very well having leading visitors come for a short visit to get a brief glimpse of what life is like there,” Mr Doyle told The National.

“But they know that life isn’t going to change for them. This will not bring the occupation to a close any quicker or allow their economy to flourish.”

Charles’ visit comes at a time when the British government will be focused on securing a trade deal with Israel, as the UK’s prepares to exit the European Union next week.

“I don’t believe the British government is likely to make a bold move on the Israel-Palestine front. The government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to be more focused on issues such as Brexit. To some extent the engagement with Israel at this level is about procuring a free trade deal going forward,” Mr Doyle said.

Charles’ son Prince William became the first British royal to visit the occupied Palestinian territories that London once ruled in June 2018, telling Palestinians that they “had not been forgotten”.

The British royal family is non-political but Charles is known for having privately-held opinions on diplomatic matters, famously boycotting a visit in 1999 by the Chinese leadership to the UK.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told The National that the 71-year-old was likely to be empathetic towards the plight of the Palestinian people but that he would be careful not to offend the Israelis.

“I think he will tread the line he is meant to tread on this tour, which is laid down by the British Foreign Office. It is a carefully balanced trip,” Mr Fitzwilliams said.

“There is no chance of Charles diverging from a script that has been agreed in advance with labyrinthine care.”

Updated: January 23, 2020 02:38 AM

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