Britain's Prince William attends the first annual Royal Foundation Forum held at Aviva in London, February 28, 2018 . REUTERS/Chris Jackson/Pool.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CHRIS JACKSON)
His Royal Highness Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is scheduled to pay a visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan in summer 2018, according to an official statement released by Kensington Palace on Thursday.
The statement did not specify whether the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, will be joining Prince William.
The visit is happening at the request of the Her Majesty's Government, and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the news of the upcoming visit, saying: "We welcome the announcement about Prince William's arrival here in Israel - the first of its kind. He will be received here with open arms."
Netanyahu also stated that he has instructed the Foreign Ministry to coordinate preparations for the visit in order to ensure its success.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the announcement on behalf of the Palestinians, saying that "Prince William, who accepted an invitation from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a welcome guest, not just of the leadership but of the Palestinian people who will provide him with the opportunity to share their stories first-hand and connect on a human level."
She added that his visit will "serve to enhance diplomatic and cultural relations between His Royal Highness and the people of Palestine."
The Kensington Palace Twitter page, which covers everything related to Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate Middleton, tweeted about the news on Thursday.
President Reuven Rivlin also took to Twitter following Kensington Palace's announcement, calling the Prince "a very special guest," and the occasion "a very special present for our 70th year of independence."
Israel's Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev extended a gracious welcome to the royal heir along with a video
Members of the British royal family have historically rejected official state visits to Israel, though several have made it to the Holy Land on personal visits. Prince Charles of Wales, for example, attended the 2016 funeral of late president Shimon Peres. William, who is second in line to the British throne, will indeed be making history by stepping foot in Israel in an official capacity.
When William's brother Harry got engaged to Meghan Markle in November 2017, Rivlin tweeted a royal "Mazel Tov"
to the couple, inviting them to honeymoon in Israel.
In March 2017, The Independent reported
that "the first state visit by a British Royal to Israel will go ahead this year," after President Rivlin extended the invitation during a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. It did not specify who the Royal would be, but speculated that it might be Prince Charles.
Had such a visit come to pass, it would have coincided with the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the historical document in which Britain declared its commitment to support the establishment of a Jewish state in the Holy Land and which is often viewed as a catalyst for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.