In an article for Jewish News Online, ALLMEP Europe Director John Lyndon discussed Prince William’s recent visit to Israel and Palestine.In a time of deep uncertainty for Israelis and Palestinians, Prince William’s trip offered a different perspective to other official visits: a focus on ordinary people.
The trip was the first official visit by a member of the Royal Family and saw Prince William to offering support to the local population by watching Palestinian refugees dance dabka, playing football with Jewish and Arab children, and discussing the mental health crisis with the youth. His time in the region provided crucial hope to the people-to-people movement and demonstrated the very real influence wielded by soft power.
Prince William’s visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories this week was unusual for a number of reasons, saying a lot about Britain, Israel and the Palestinians, and this troubling moment in the Middle East. First—and most obviously—there was its novelty. Why did the UK and the Royal Family choose this moment to break a 70-year tradition of avoiding an official visit? Brexit and its attendant uncertainty and isolation, Israel’s 70th anniversary, and relations with Donald Trump’s America were all likely a factor. Security Council seat aside, post-Brexit Britain and Israel are closer to geo-political and economic peers than at any point in the last seventy years. The Royal Family has long been deployed as an advance brigade of British trade and investment, and it’s likely that this was a heavy element of the calculation at the FCO.
Britain’s controversial historical role in the region must also have influenced decision-making, yet the Prince’s visit involved precious little retrospection. Instead, it was a surprising reflection of the present realities, and an opportunity—thanks to that rare thing in this troubled land, a depoliticised high-profile visitor—for a different sort of conversation, focused on the 13 million human beings that live in the region, rather than their respective, often maddeningly dysfunctional political elites.
Read more at Jewish News Online
Photo Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
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