Lhn it’s tibe [or the roy­als to visit Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JC RE­PORTER

THE FOR­EIGN Of­fice has de­clined to con­firm whether a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily will visit Is­rael this year.

Reu­ven Rivlin, Is­raeli pres­i­dent, is­sued an in­vi­ta­tion dur­ing a meet­ing with Boris Johnson, the for­eign sec­re­tary, in Jerusalem last week.

Ac­cord­ing to The Times, “White­hall sources” have said the in­vi­ta­tion is likely to be ac­cepted.

But a spokesper­son for the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice could give no in­di­ca­tion that a visit was in the pipe­line. The spokesper­son told the JC: “De­ci­sions on where mem­bers of the royal fam­ily visit on be­half of Her Majesty’s Gov­ern­ment are taken by the Royal Vis­its Com­mit­tee and in­clude ad­vice from the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice.

“Any in­vi­ta­tion will be con­sid­ered in the nor­mal way.”

No mem­ber of the royal fam­ily has made an of­fi­cial trip to Is­rael since it was es­tab­lished in 1948, de­spite a se­ries of in­vi­ta­tions from the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.

A royal visit this year would be timely — Is­rael is mark­ing the cen­te­nary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion, the doc­u­ment that first ex­pressed Bri­tish back­ing for a Jewish home­land in Pales­tine.

Si­mon Johnson, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil, one of the or­gan­is­ers of events mark­ing the Bal­four cen­te­nary in the UK, said there was as yet no sign a visit will take place.

He said: “We have noted the re­ports but there is no con­fir­ma­tion at this point.” Mr Johnson said the JLC hoped Pres­i­dent Rivlin’s in­vi­ta­tion “will be warmly wel­comed by those who ad­vise the Royal Fam­ily on over­seas vis­its”.

Paul Char­ney, chair­man of the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion, said any prospect of a visit should be greeted with “lim­ited vigour”.

He said: “The royal fam­ily have made nu­mer­ous of­fi­cial vis­its to the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and oth­ers yet never has Is­rael been in­cluded. This has been a con­cern­ing omis­sion.”

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