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Foreign Office refuses to confirm rumours of royal visit to Israel

    The Foreign Office has declined to confirm whether a member of the royal family will visit Israel this year.

    Reuven Rivlin, Israeli president, issued an invitation during a meeting with Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, in Jerusalem last week.

    According to The Times, “Whitehall sources” have said the invitation is likely to be accepted.

    But a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could give no indication that a visit was in the pipeline. The spokesperson told the JC: “Decisions on where members of the royal family visit on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government are taken by the Royal Visits Committee and include advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

    “Any invitation will be considered in the normal way.”

    No member of the royal family has made an official trip to Israel since it was established in 1948, despite a series of invitations from the Israeli government.

    A royal visit this year would be timely — Israel is marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the document that first expressed British backing for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

    Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, one of the organisers of events marking the Balfour centenary in the UK, said there was as yet no sign a visit will take place.

    He said: “We have noted the reports but there is no confirmation at this point.” Mr Johnson said the JLC hoped President Rivlin’s invitation “will be warmly welcomed by those who advise the Royal Family on overseas visits”.

    Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation, said any prospect of a visit should be greeted with “limited vigour”.

    He said: “The royal family have made numerous official visits to the Middle East, including Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and others yet never has Israel been included. This has been a concerning omission.”

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