Official royal visit to Israel is welcome, albeit overdue

Morning View
Morning View

The state of Israel was founded in 1948, 70 years ago.

On the country’s 70th anniversary, the Duke of Cambridge is to make a historic official visit to it.

Prince William will be the most high-profile British royal to make such an official tour to Israel.

His father, the Prince of Wales, attended the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, former prime minister and president respectively, but this was not considered to be part of an official tour.

The founding of Israel was an unhappy time in British involvement in the region, including the bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 in which 91 people died.

There are to this day bitterly memories of that terrible attack, which the UK still considers to have been a major act of terrorism.

But there are also different, indeed irreconcilable, narratives as to the founding of an independent Ireland, which did not stop the Queen laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin in 2011, in a major moment of reconciliation.

Israel has become one of the most modern states in the world, a hub of technology and science. The UK has become one of its most reliable allies.

The country is a beacon of democratic and open government in a region beset by economic and political problems.

Israel is, for example, far more socially liberal and enlightened in its view of women’s rights than the societies that surround it.

The country faces an existential threat to which it responds firmly and with perpetual vigilance, and so it is criticised around the world, and rarely supported.

This therefore is a welcome trip by Prince William, in which he will also visit Jordan and the Occupied Territories.

And it will, as the government said, promote diplomatic and cultural ties in the region.