Letter published in The Sunday Telegraph, 13 December 2015. © Richard Kemp
SIR – Your article “The Royals and a long line of snubs to Israel” raises a troubling problem, and one that must be urgently resolved for reasons that go beyond the political.
The ban on royal visits to Israel dates back to the end of the British mandate and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, which humiliated the Foreign Office, frustrating its carefully crafted plans over three decades to deny the Jewish homeland that had been promised by the Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, in 1917.
The reason was a desire to appease and inveigle the Arab countries, all of which opposed the creation of the Jewish state, in order to gain influence over them and their oil. Also tied up in this in the late Thirties was the legitimate intent to prevent an Arab alliance with the Nazis, which failed.
The Foreign Office continues to harbour a deep-seated resentment towards Israel, refusing to allow a royal visit until the Jewish state changes its policies.
In two years we will see the centenary of the liberation by British forces under General Allenby of the Holy City of Jerusalem. A total of 16,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers died in the Palestine Campaign – the second largest theatre of operations of the First World War.
Will the Foreign Office prevent royal attendance at the centenary commemoration of the war in Palestine? Will it allow its grudge against Israel to deny British soldiers who fell fighting for the Crown there an equal honour to that bestowed on their comrades in arms at Gallipoli this year, when both the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry were present?
Colonel Richard Kemp
Former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan