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Missed opportunity

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, London

ImageToday, 25 June, prince William will arrive in Israel and the occupied West Bank as part of a regional trip.

This visit is the first since the creation of the state of Israel, 70 years ago, and breaks with British foreign office policy that the royal family should not make official visits to Israel due to its historic and grave violations of human rights, international law and UN resolutions

Palestine Solidarity Campaign is deeply concerned that prince William’s visit, like other international and diplomatic visits, is being used by Israel to mask its human rights abuses against Palestinians, including its recent premeditated killing of 128 Palestinians and the wounding of some 14,000 others in Gaza, including journalists, medics, and children.

In the aftermath of the killings, Israel has continued to refuse demands for an independent investigation. This visit by prince William reinforces the UK government’s historic policy of turning a blind eye to gross violations of human rights when they are committed by the Israeli government.

It is, therefore, crucial that all attempts to use this visit by prince William to normalise Israel’s continuous and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law are resisted. It is clear that the Israeli government will use the trip to achieve just that.

It is concerning that prince William is already the target of pressure by the Israeli government not to refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory. This amounts to asking a member of the royal family not to recognise and endorse international law.

Having organised the visit, putting the prince in an invidious position, it is now crucial that the UK government makes a clear statement condemning the killings and calling for an investigation.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign continues to urge the UK government to end the bilateral arms trade with Israel; impose sanctions against Israel; and to apply meaningful pressure on Israel to end its unlawful occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, its siege on Gaza, and its apartheid practices and policies against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

We hope that during the course of his visit, the prince will spend time meeting with civil society organisations and human rights defenders who are constantly subjected to punitive measures for their advocacy work; refugees denied their right to return and living in UNRWA camps while Israel continues its unlawful settlement expansion; and Palestinian citizens of Israel who are denied the right to full equality under a legal system that discriminates based on ethnicity. [UNRWA is the ‘United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’ – ed]