Kensington Palace’s carefully-crafted tweet announcing that “The Duke of Cambridge will visit Israel, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the Summer” - could spark a diplomatic war with far-reaching implications.
The Palace clarified that:
“The visit is at the request of Her Majesty's Government and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.”
This will be the first official Royal tour to the State of Israel since its establishment in 1948. Israel’s President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu have expressed their delight at this long-overdue announcement.
Jordan - visited officially by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1984 – will enthusiastically welcome their grandson Prince William.
The British Government’s decision to also dispatch the Prince to visit the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (“OPT”) - Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem and Gaza – the last remaining 5% of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine where sovereignty remains unresolved between Jews and Arabs – is very intriguing.
The PLO and Hamas have been engaged in an internecine struggle for control in the OPT since 2007 – whilst the PLO has suspended negotiations with Israel over the allocation of sovereignty in the OPT since April 2014. Corruption and nepotism are rife and elections are long overdue. Murderers of Israelis are rewarded with financial payments for life.
PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas’s incendiary comments at the United Nations on 20 February claiming the British Government bears responsibility for the catastrophic consequences inflicted on the Palestinian people as a result of Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration - create a toxic environment for the Royal visit.
Indeed Abbas had earlier declared in the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016:
“We ask Great Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous declaration, to draw the necessary lessons and to bear its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibility for the consequences of this declaration, including an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, misery and injustice this declaration created and to act to rectify these disasters and remedy its consequences, including by the recognition of the state of Palestine. This is the least Great Britain can do.”
Another Abbas demand in March 2017 that Britain apologise for the Balfour Declaration was swiftly rejected by the British Government.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - writing in the Daily Telegraph on 29 October 2017 – went even further:
“I have no doubt that the only viable solution to the conflict resembles the one first set down on paper by another Briton, Lord Peel, in the report of the Royal Commission on Palestine in 1937, and that is the vision of two states for two peoples.”
The Peel Commission recommended two sovereign independent States be established in Palestine:
1. An Arab State - consisting of Trans-Jordan (now called Jordan) – 77% of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine – united with part of the remaining 23% of the Mandate territory within which the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home was proposed in 1922
2. A Jewish State consisting of the remainder of the 23% of Palestine.
The Arabs rejected the Peel recommendations.
However Jordan’s subsequent independence in 1946 and Israel’s in 1948 laid the groundwork for the Peel two-state solution applying in 99% of former Palestine between 1950 and 1967 after Jordan and Egypt had illegally invaded and occupied the OPT in 1948.
Great Britain in 1950 and the PLO on its establishment in 1964 recognized this two-state reality – which remains the key to resolving the 100 years old Arab-Jewish conflict.
Prince William’s visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories ensures that resurrecting the Jordan-Israel two-state solution once again takes centre stage.