Prince William meets young Israelis in coastal Tel Aviv

Published July 7, 2020, 1:19 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By the Associated Press

TEL AVIV, Israel  — Prince William began the second full day of his historic royal visit to Israel on Wednesday by strolling down Tel Aviv’s trendy Rothschild Boulevard and meeting young artists and entrepreneurs in Israel’s cultural and financial capital.

Britain's Prince William delivers a speech during a reception at the British ambassador residence in in Ramat Gan, Israel,Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)/ Manila Bulletin
Britain’s Prince William delivers a speech during a reception at the British ambassador residence in in Ramat Gan, Israel,Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)/ Manila Bulletin

Wearing a beige summer blazer, light blue shirt, blue pants and brown suede loafers, the Duke of Cambridge met Netta Barzilai, winner of this year’s Eurovision song contest, and had a cold drink at one of the famous kiosks along the boulevard named after the late 19th-century British-Jewish banker and philanthropist who contributed greatly to the Jewish community in the Holy Land.

Thousands of onlookers gathered behind police barriers to catch a glimpse of the prince, with some shouting “we love William” toward the second in line to the throne.

The prince casually smiled and waved before attending a cultural event on the rooftop of a museum where he met young people engaged in youth activism, social impact and the environment. There, he lauded Israel for being way ahead of the world in its water recycling and conservation efforts.

“It’s going to be a really big issue for us in the future,” he said. “I think my generation, my children as well, there’s a legacy here … we need to tidy up a bit.”

He also noted that that he saw public deposit vessels for plastic waste from his car. “I was very impressed by how many plastic bottles there were in there. It’s like: ‘well done Israel, fantastic’.”

On Tuesday, he attended a soccer match of young Jewish and Arab players and hit the beach before going to the reception the British ambassador held in his honor that included demonstrations by Israeli tech startups and a collection of Israeli celebrities, politicians and other public figures.

At the reception, Israeli model Bar Refaeli described William as “the best-looking prince in the world”.

Jonathan Weiss, a tour guide who accompanied the prince on Wednesday, said William was impressed by how youthful the city is and “what a great vibe” it has and said that the next “time he comes, he plans to bring his swimming trunks.”

From Tel Aviv, the prince will travel to the West Bank to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The prince is the first member of the British royal family to pay an official visit to Israel. Though the trip is being billed as non-political, the prince is meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and visiting sites at the heart of the century-old conflict.

Three decades of British rule between the two world wars helped establish some of the fault lines of today’s Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Britain’s withdrawal in 1948 led to the eventual establishment of Israel and Jordan, where the prince kicked off the five-day Mideast tour on Sunday.

For the 36-year-old William, it marks a high-profile visit that could burnish his international credentials. On Tuesday, he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and paid an emotional visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

The Palestinians are also eager to welcome the prince, hoping his visit will give them a boost as they struggle with a Trump administration they consider biased in favor of Israel.

The prince will try to deftly dodge politics as he later visits east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed in a move not internationally recognized. Israel considers east Jerusalem, home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, as an inseparable part of its capital. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their future capital.

“This region has a complicated and tragic history — in the past century the people of the Middle East have suffered great sadness and loss. Never has hope and reconciliation been more needed,” William said at Tuesday night’s reception. “I know I share a desire with all of you, and with your neighbors, for a just and lasting peace.”