Saturday, December 5, 2015

UK: Why do British Royals visit Arab dictatorships but not Israel?

Historian Andrew Roberts (*) gave an insight, in 2009, on why the Queen and the Royal Family are not permitted to visit Israel...
[...] Official visits are organized and taken on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth office," a press officer for the royal family explained when Prince Edward visited Israel recently privately - and a spokesman for the Foreign Office replied that [quote] ‘Israel is not unique" in not having received an official royal visit, because [quote] ‘Many countries have not had an official visit.’ That might be true for Burkino Faso and Chad, but the FO has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the Queen on State visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan & Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area.

Perhaps Her Majesty hasn’t been on the throne long enough, at 57 years, for the Foreign Office to get round to allowing her to visit one of the only democracies in the Middle East. At least she could be certain of a warm welcome in Israel, unlike in Morocco where she was kept waiting by the King for three hours in 90 degree heat [...] Read more.
 TheTimes of Israel reports:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently invited Britain’s Prince Charles to make an official visit to Israel, the Telegraph reported Saturday, but such a visit is unlikely as long as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains unresolved.

The invitation was extended when the two met briefly on the sidelines of a climate change conference in Paris last week.

“Until there is a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Royal family can’t really go there,” a British government source told the newspaper. “In Israel  so much politics is caught up in the land itself that it’s best to avoid those complications altogether by not going there.”

Official visits by royals to foreign countries are sanctioned by the government. Despite numerous invitations over the years, no government has approved such a visit since the end of the British mandate and the establishment of Israel in 1948. Royals have in fact visited Israel in the past, the paper reported, but such trips were termed personal visits, and the UK government was quick to stress they did not in any way represent the state.

Israeli officials have bristled at royals’ unwillingness to come to the Jewish state, while they appear to have no qualms about visiting authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  “We’re the only democracy in the Middle East and so you ask why do the royals go to the Arab dictatorships around us but they don’t come here?” an Israeli official told the Telegraph.

In 2007 an aide to Prince Charles warned in an internal email leaked to the press that a visit by the prince would likely be used by Israel to try to boost its global standing.

“Safe to assume there is no chance of this visit ever actually happening?” deputy private secretary Clive Alderton wrote to private secretary Sir Michael Peat. “Acceptance would make it hard to avoid the many ways in which Israel would want [Prince Charles] to help burnish its international image.”
(*) Andrew Roberts, a founder member of José Maria Aznar’s Friends of Israel Initiative, also wrote this remarkable article in 2008: Happy birthday, Israel and Shalom.

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