Elliott Abrams: Why No Royal Visit for Israel?

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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, visits the Sheikh Isa Cultural Centre on day 3 of a Royal tour of the United Arab Emirates on November 10, 2016 in Manama, Bahrain. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were on a Royal tour of the Middle East starting in Oman, then the UAE and finally Bahrain. Elliott Abrams writes that it is plain silly to believe that the arab states would be horribly “upset” if Charles visited Israel during his next jaunt to Arab capitals. Arthur Edwards/Pool/Getty

This article first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations site.

I've written before, in 2014 and 2016, about the remarkable failure of any British royal to visit Israel except briefly for a funeral.

Prince Philip attended Rabin's funeral and Prince Charles attended that of Shimon Peres, but an official visit–to see and honor the country–appears to be beyond the pale.

This indefensible practice should not, it seems, be blamed on the royal family, but instead on the Foreign Office. The FCO, as it is known, has just done it again.

Related: Prince Charles in Israel: What's Been Keeping Him Away?

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Moreover, there will this year be commemorations of the British Commonwealth troops who fell in the Palestine Campaign in 1917.

But it is not to be, the British tabloid The Sun reports:

Prince Charles was set to travel to Israel to honour thousands of British war dead at the centenary of the WW1 Palestine Campaign and the historic Balfour Declaration.

But insiders say the controversial trip – unofficially pencilled in for later this year – has now been binned.

It is feared the decision may have been taken to avoid upsetting Arab nations in the region who regularly host UK Royals….

But the Royal Visits Committee – part of the FCO – who decide where and when Royals will be sent around the world have decided against it.

It is understood the invite never even reached the Royal household or Prince Charles.

Now, we all know that relations between Israel and the Sunni Arab states have been improving for some years. It is plain silly to believe that they would be horribly "upset" if Charles visited Israel during his next regular jaunt to Arab capitals.

So the decision by the FCO reflects plain ignorance–or it reflects something far worse.

Related: Elliott Abrams : Why Are Palestinian Kids Being Taught to Hate?

One might have hoped that those ostensibly in charge of the FCO, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and above him Prime Minister Theresa May, would weigh in and ask the "Royal Visits Committee" to explain its decision.

If they do not, it will appear that Her Majesty's Government is happy to tolerate a policy that increasingly seems to be based on sheer prejudice.

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Elliott Abrams: Why No Royal Visit for Israel? | Opinion