Prince William on historic Mideast trip, praises Jordan ties

Prince William Kate Middleton Middle East tour

Prince William Kate Middleton Middle East tour

At a time when Israel is facing global criticism for its use of live fire against Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza and its continued settlement expansion, when the worldwide community has overwhelmingly rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, when Israel's plans to demolish the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar have drawn condemnation, the first-ever official visit from Britain's royal family is a welcome reprieve, one that adds legitimacy to Netanyahu's government and to Israel as an ally of the United Kingdom.

The British Royal then headed straight to Fablabs, an initiative by the Crown Prince's foundation to equip young entrepreneurs with the technology they need to realise their ambitions.

On Monday he will visit the Roman archaeological site at Jerash, and he will also meet Syrian refugees who have been helped by a charity supported by UNICEF.

But no, of course, that's Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Jordan's Crown Prince Al Hussein.

"This is the first visit by a member of the British royal family to Israel".

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".

He is expected to meet with Netanyahu, as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel has long pushed for an official visit by a member of the British monarchy.

William, traveling without his wife, Kate (Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge) - who gave birth to their third child at the end of April - started his five-day regional tour in Jordan on Sunday.

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The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge's Royal Air Force plane touched down at the small airport in eastern Amman, where he was given a red-carpet welcome by the heir to the Jordanian throne.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday leveled pointed criticism of British Prince William's planned visit to the Jewish state.

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

The governments were also at odds over Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move lauded by Israel while Britain pledged to maintain the agreement. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state while Israel claims the whole of the city as its undivided capital.

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

Ahead of William's arrival, the official schedule's reference to east Jerusalem as "in the Occupied Palestinian Territories" sparked particular anger among some right-wing Israeli politicians.

Britain regards Israel as a close and important ally, but the visit comes at a time when the two countries have publicly disagreed over some major issues.

During the trip, William will have plenty of reminders of the British role in the region.

Crown Prince Hussein recorded the game for the pair to view later as William arrived in Jordan just as the second half between manager Gareth Southgates team and Panama began.

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