Sunday, 8 July 2018


Dear Prince William,

‘You have not been forgotten’, you comforted the Palestinians. A PR stunt, cynics have called the whole trip. Some have dismissed your words as ‘crocodile tears’. I don’t agree. As Princess Diana’s son, you have it in your DNA to care. I believe you are sincere and have been moved by what you saw in refugee camps. Is your sincerity enough to help poor Palestine? That is the question.

As Britain’s future monarch, you know this nation’s historic responsibility. A fateful Declaration, issued in 1917 by Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour on behalf of the British Government, promised the Zionists a land inhabited by another people, Palestinian Arabs. A people later driven out or turned into a discriminated minority by alien colonists, euphemistically called ‘settlers’. It was a grave injustice, a frightful wrong at the root of Palestine’s sufferings. How can that wrong be redressed? And what can you do about it?

Ostensibly, Israel should stand for peace. Its official symbol, the Menorah, implies it. It is the sacred seven-branched candlestick. On either side flanked by olive branches. Wonderful, because the olive branch signifies peace! A powerful echo from the Bible. After Noah sent out the dove from the Ark, the bird returned with an olive leaf in its mouth. A message from God. The Creator’s anger was over. The flood, occasioned by man’s sins, receded forever. And thereafter the olive stood not for war but for peace. The God of Israel’s peace option is thus proclaimed as a noble aspiration by the two olive branches in Menorah. Alas, Bibi Netanyahu, Israel’s PM, a democratically elected leader, hence the expression of the national will, hates peace. Quite apart from beating the war drums about Iran, Bibi keeps besieging the people of Gaza. He won’t allow a viable Palestinian state to exist. And you, Prince  William, had met him and were nice to him. A Prince of Peace – as a newspaper termed you –
meeting a Lord of War. All right, you had to but…still not very promising.

Cunning Netanyahu, it seems, holds all the cards. He doesn’t give a hoot about the many UN resolutions (numbering 45) condemning Israel. He treats them as just words. Hot air. (Right now, as the priest writes this, the Israelis are about to bulldoze an entire Palestinian village at Khan al-Ahmar, not giving a damn about the rights of indigenous people.) In that, Bibi grasps a simple Machiavellian truth well conveyed in Thomas Hobbes’ dictum: ‘Covenants without the sword are but words’. Talk of international treaties, morality, human rights and so on is empty rhetoric unless backed up by Macht, power or force. Israel’s nuclear arsenal gives it that tremendous Macht. Tactical nuclear warheads, neutron bombs, ‘suitcase nukes’ (ye gods!) and other weapons of mass destruction, like chemical ones, little, democratic Israel has them all. Plus the backing of the world’s most powerful state, America. With all that, what need has Netanyahu to negotiate with the Palestinians? The status quo suits him
well enough. Poor Palestine does not stand a chance, does it?

It is a conundrum. A Gordian knot impossible to cut. Which is where you might, just might, come in. You are not King yet but one day you will be, God willing. A British King’s constitutional role is well described by Walter Bagehot. The King reigns but does not rule. He can only ‘advise, encourage and warn’. Not quite as hopeless as the King Log of Aesop’s fable. The Royal Prerogative would give you teeth, including the use of force. Alas, the Prerogative is exercised by the PM. You are like putty in his hands. However, what if…It’s like this: the Royal Prerogative, as the name suggests, is a power derived from the Crown, rather than conferred on the PM by Parliament. There isn’t really any codified set of rules strictly requiring the Government or PM to obtain approval before embarking on military action, i.e. war. But, note, the convention is that it is the King, and not Parliament or the PM, who declares war and makes peace, who concludes treaties and who alone can cede territory. It is
only established custom that devolves Royal Prerogative powers from the Crown to the PM. As there is no written British Constitution, nothing is engraved in letters of stone.

Do you get my gist, dear Prince William? They say you have made it part of your life mission to secure a just peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestinians. Right now that is impossible, given the aforesaid power relations and the Natanyahus of this world. But what if, when you are King, by virtue of your Royal Prerogative usurped by a spineless and unrighteous civil government, you were to claim back the reins of power? Your authority would then be not just moral but real. Backed by Britain’s Armed Forces and nuclear arsenal. Then you would be in a position to threaten Israel with war unless it allowed Palestine to exist as a sovereign state. And Israel does understand the meaning of force. Oh, yes, it does!

An insane idea? Dear William, does not the spirit of your beloved mother, Princess Diana, speak to you? She who was the People’s Princess, who campaigned fearlessly for AIDS sufferers, for shunned lepers in India and for maimed victims of landmines in Angola – wouldn’t your mother rejoice at your embracing the cause of the marginalised Palestinians and winning them justice? I feel it in my blood that she would!

They say that you have vowed that when you are King you will find out the truth about Diana’s death. I pray that will be so. I also pray that, in God’s own, good time, as a great King, you will repair the wrongs of the Balfour Declaration and help a resurrected Palestine into a new, bright future.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

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