UKs Prince William begins politically delicate Mideast trip

MICHEL GANGNE

The highlight of the leg in Jordan will occur Sunday, when Prince William meets Crown Prince Hussein, the son of Jordan's King Abdullah II.

William will visit a technology lab for young Jordanians, tour a vocational training college with links to Britain's Middlesex University and meet Syrian refugee children.

Prince William will begin a second day of his royal visit to the Middle East.

The two U.S. officials, who are orthodox Jews, returned to Israel on Friday and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during which they discussed "the means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated, while maintaining Israel's security", according to a statement they made.

Britain's Prince William disembarks from a Royal Air Force plane after landing at the Marka airport in Amman, Jordan, Sunday, June 24, 2018.

He will visit the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and pay tribute at the tomb of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Greece, who was honoured by Israel for sheltering Jews during World War II.

Kensington Palace, the official residence of the Duke of Cambridge, said that the visit was aimed at introducing William to "as many people from as many walks of life as possible - and use the spotlight that his visit will bring to celebrate their hopes for the future".

Prince William has arrived in the Middle East for his most diplomatically sensitive royal tour to date.

British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey said last week that the aim of William's trip to Israel is to "celebrate the contemporary partnership between the United Kingdom and Israel".

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Though the visit has been billed as "non-political", the official itinerary for William's visit to Jerusalem holy sites stirred political controversy by listing the Old City as being located in the "Occupied Palestinian Territories".

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict typically looms large, even during largely ceremonious visits, and William will have to maneuvered carefully to avoid missteps.

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich went a step further, calling upon Netanyahu to prevent the British royal from visiting the Old City as part of his visit to the Palestinian Authority, as long as the Palace defines it as occupied Palestinian territory.

They stressed that the two-state solution, which guarantees the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, is the only way to resolve the conflict and achieve a comprehensive and just peace.

Jordan's ruling Hashemite dynasty has strong ties to Britain.

During the reception, which marked the Queen's birthday, William spoke about the Duchess: "My wife Catherine is very sorry she can not be here with me so soon after the birth of our son Louis, but her family remembers very fondly the nearly three years she spent here as a child when her father worked for British Airways in Amman".

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said she welcomes William's visit to the West Bank as a chance to see Palestinian reality under Israeli occupation first hand.

In a 1994 visit to Yad Vashem, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, planted a tree there in his mother's honor.

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