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The Royal ban on visiting Israel is totally absurd


Royals must honour the fallen of our forgotten Middle East war

Richard Kemp

No fewer than 16,000 British and Commonwealth troops died during the Palestine campaign in the First World War and are buried in the land where they fell. Yet a long-standing Foreign Office ban on royal visits to Israel looks likely to deny these men the honour that has been afforded to British soldiers killed in Europe, Gallipoli and other theatres of war during the centenary years. This policy must be overturned now to ensure their sacrifice is properly recognised.

Ninety-eight years ago today, on December 9, 1917, the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem surrendered the Holy City to General Sir Edmund Allenby’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force at the end of a bloody battle against the Turks that began on November 17.

The Palestine campaign has received little attention during the First World War commemorations, but was the second largest British theatre of operations in terms of strength of forces, with troops from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and India. It achieved the first defeat of a central power in the war.

British Empire forces sustained 554,828 casualties during the campaign, including 16,000 dead. At the Jerusalem War Cemetery on Mount Scopus this year I visited


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