It's raining royals as Israel prepares for second royal visit in two year

©The Jerusalem Post

In June 2018, 70 years after Britain quit its mandate in Palestine, Prince William became the first member of Britain’s royal family to pay a state visit to Israel. Less than two years later, his father – Prince Charles– is arriving Wednesday night for his first extended visit to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum marking 75 years since the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz. (Charles briefly came to Israel in 1995 for the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin, and again in 2016 for the funeral of Shimon Peres).Seemingly just like that, visits by members of the royal family have come from something that Israel yearned for as a sign of international legitimacy (for so long the British royals travelled everywhere else in the region, but would not step foot here), to the new normal. It was obvious that Britain \- as a nation that once stood alone in the fight against the Nazis, and as a country so instrumental in Hitler’s defeat - would send a high-ranking official to Jerusalem for events marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. But London did not have to send Prince Charles, effectively the country’s highest-ranking traveling official, since Queen Elizabeth II no longer takes trips abroad. It could have, as did Sweden and Denmark, suffice with sending its prime minister.But no. London wanted to send the highest representative able to travel, hence Charles’ participation in the event.And that decision signals the importance Britain now attributes to ties with Israel, ties that have soared over the last decade, and are bound to become even closer since Britain elected Boris Johnson – not Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn – as prime minister last month, and as Britain leaves the EU and is looking for friends and trading partners.Tellingly, London did not announce Charles’ participation in the event – one that will underline the rising threat of antisemitism around the world – until after Johnson defeated Corbyn, a candidate who supported the virulently antisemitic Hamas and Hezbollah, and allowed rampant antisemitism to flourish inside the Labour Party. One can only speculate how Corbyn, were he residing at 10 Downing Street, would have viewed this level of British representation at an event casting a spotlight on antisemitism.But Corbyn is not Britain’s prime minister, and Israel’s relationship with that country is soaring in all areas: in trade, where the UK is Israel’s third largest trading partner; in defense ties, where Israel is believed to be Britain’s third largest arms supplier; and in tourism, where Britain is Israel’s 5th largest pool for tourists, and from where tourism to Israel has increased nearly 20% over the last two years.And all that in a country where the BDS movement found solid footing, where some of the elite press is toxic toward Israel, and were Roger Waters and a few high-profile and creative fellow travelers constantly demonize and incite against Israel.
But while Waters’ excoriations and various anti-Israel pieces in the Guardian take place very much above the radar screen, the tremendous intelligence and security cooperation between the two countries, as well as booming trade and scientific ties, is taking place very much below it.But it is taking place, and Prince Charles’ visit is high-profile proof.There are numerous reasons for the surge in ties, ranging from Brexit to the fact that Israel now has things – in terms of intelligence, security and technology – that Britain wants and needs. But there is also another geopolitical component that has led to the improvement of relations: Israel’s quiet cooperation with its Arab neighbors, particularly the Persian Gulf countries.In the past, Britain’s close historical ties to the Saudis, the Persian Gulf countries, and Jordan and Egypt have placed brakes on how far forward London felt comfortable in moving forward with Israel. Britain did not want to jeopardize its ties with those countries by getting too close to Israel.But now, with Israel’s cooperation with the Persian Gulf emirates an open secret, those brakes have been removed. Saudi princes can no longer whisper to their British interlocutors that it would be a good idea to cool ties with Israel, since they themselves are going forward with quiet ties.Charles, while in Israel, will also dutifully go to Ramallah to visit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Jerusalem and London do not see eye-to-eye on the Palestinian issue. But while in the past that served to restrict the relationship between the two countries, today it no longer does.Even before it formally leaves the EU, Britain – much to Israel’s satisfaction – has broken free of a sentiment that still has some traction in the halls of the EU bureaucracy in Brussels: that ties with Israel must be linked to progress on the Palestinian issue. The depth and breadth of the Israeli-British relationship over the last decade shows that Britain realizes that this attitude is not in its own best interests.All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2020Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc.