A British royal is making an “historic” visit to the Middle East.
Prince William began the first official visit to Israel by a British royal with a solemn ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
He met with two survivors from the Kindertransport, a rescue effort that brought thousands of Jewish children from Germany to Britain on the eve of World War II.
“I had a very moving tour around Yad Vashem this morning, which really taught me quite a lot more than I thought I already knew about the true horrors of what happened to the Jews over the war,” said William.
William then met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the visit as “historic.”
The British ruled the Holy Land from 1917 until Israel became a state in 1948, but since then the royals have tried to steer clear of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. William is turning a new page and reaching out to both sides.
“I very much look forward to understanding a lot about the region and about hoping that peace in the area can be achieved,” said William.
William will meet Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, which prompted this appeal from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
“I would like you to send President Abbas a message of peace, and tell him it is about time that we have to bring to an end the tragedy between us that goes along for more than 120 years,” said Rivlin.
Despite William’s efforts to strike a neutral tone, the thorny issue of Jerusalem is already causing controversy.
The United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and recently moved its embassy there, but Britain sees things differently. William’s itinerary describes an upcoming visit to the holy places in Jerusalem’s Old City as part of “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”