British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey said Thursday that Prince William's upcoming visit to Israel would not be political in nature.
"It wouldn't be a political visit. It would be a visit about the strength of the contemporary partnership and relationship between the UK and Israel. It won't be a visit about the peace process or issues like that," Quarrey told Ynet in an interview.
Kensington Palace announced Thursday that the Duke of Cambridge, who is second in line for the British throne, will visit Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority this summer, but no dates have been announced yet.
"We don't have detailed plans—an itinerary for the visit—yet, and that's the work that we'll be doing in the coming weeks," Quarrey said.
"I'm sure there'll be great demand from people here to see and meet the prince" while he's in Israel, the ambassador went on to say.
He noted he hopes William gets "to see a bit of Israel and to meet as many Israelis as possible," adding he wanted the prince to get "a flavor of this country, because I think that's really important when visitors come that there are very special things about Israel, including the people."
Overseas royal visits are made at the request of the British government. William will be the first close relation of Queen Elizabeth II to make an official visit to Israel, following trips made previously by the monarch’s cousins the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Gloucester in 1998 and 2007 respectively.
"There's a process in London through what's called the Royal Visits Committee, which advises the palace, the households, on visits overseas, and that process went through the normal way. I'm delighted that the outcome of that is that we got the first official visit," Quarrey said
Other foreign trips made by royals, such as attendance at funerals or weddings, are not made at the request of Britain’s Foreign Office and are therefore not classed as official visits.
"Prince Charles has visited twice in the past, sadly for funerals of Prime Minister Rabin and then of President Peres, but this will be the first ever official visit by a senior member of the royal family, and it will be a tremendous success, I'm sure," the ambassador noted.
After Peres's funeral in 2016, Prince Charles visited the grave of his grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Prince Philip, the Queen's consort, visited his mother's grave in 1994, when he was in Israel to attend a ceremony honoring her efforts to save Greek Jews during the Holocaust, for which she was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations.
Quarrey asserted the visit should focus on the cooperation between the United Kingdom and Israel.
"The relationship between the UK and Israel is stronger, deeper and broader than it's ever been, whether it's in trade, investments, science and technology, whether it's in the security cooperation that we have to work against common threats. In all of these areas we're doing more together now than we've ever done before," Quarrey said. "There's a lot to celebrate at the moment, and the visit should be a celebration of the strength of the partnership between the two countries."
William, who will be visiting Israel at the behest of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Jordan has received British royals multiple times, including a state visit by the queen and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh in 1984, but several invitations from Israel have gone unanswered, frustrating Jerusalem, particularly as official royal visits have been made to autocratic nations, such as Saudi Arabia.
"We're the only democracy in the Middle East, and so you ask why do the Royals go to the Arab dictatorships around us but they don’t come here?" an Israeli official was quoted by The Telegraph as saying in 2015.
Despite the a-political nature of the visit, Prince William's upcoming trip to the region is expected to be a charged one. Human rights groups have already called on the prince to make the visit more than a diplomatic one.
Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, Allan Hogarth, said he hoped "Prince William visits some of the Palestinian communities affected by Israel’s 50-year occupation... He could also listen to families like Ahed Tamimi’s, who can tell him what it’s like to have children detained by the Israeli authorities for minor offences or simply for protesting against the occupation."
Hogarth went on to say he hoped the prince supports Amnesty's campaign to ban the import and sale of all goods produced in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. "We’d hope Prince William could see the moral strength of this position and support our campaign," he said.
An unnamed Palestinian official told The Guardian the visit was an opportunity for William to visit areas of Jerusalem annexed by Israel, "see illegally built settlements and understand the UK’s historical role in the conflict."
"We hope that his visit will be a chance to see the realities on the ground," the official said.
The sensitive nature of the Duke of Cambridge's visit was further demonstrated in the Hebrew statement issued by the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, which announced the prince will visit "the Palestinian Authority," while the English statement said he will visit "the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
“What kind of translator do you have? Or did occupation disappear from your terminology when talking to Israelis?” a Palestinian official wrote on Twitter.