Reuven Rivlin asked Prince William to convey a “message of peace” to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
In unexpected public remarks before the pair held talks away from the cameras, the Israeli president welcomed the second in line to the throne “from the bottom of our hearts”.
Their meeting – during the first day of the first official Royal visit to the country – followed talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ahead of the Prince’s meetings in Ramallah tomorrow, Rivlin urged his royal guest to send Abbas “a message of Peace. It’s about time together we have to find the way to build confidence as a first step to bring to an end the tragedy between us”.
It is the first time in a trip that will focus on meeting ordinary people that the conflict has been publicly broached.
After telling His Royal guest he was “writing a new page in history” with the landmark trip, Rivlin said: “We have had a lot of kings and prince in the history of Jerusalem but you are the first to come not just as a prince but a pilgrim to the holy land.”
He also paid tribute to the British legacy in the region – “we adopted most of the traditions you left” – and the modern-day links between our countries including in trade.
But the football fanatic decried the fact israel hadn’t managed to emulate the Premiership. He delighted in recalling to the Duke – who later presented him with a shirt of his beloved Liverpool – the Israelis who played for the club. Rivlin also asked him to pass on his best wishes to the Queen and Prince Charles, who has twice visited the residence.
Prince William said he was looking forward to “understanding more about the region and hoping peace in the area can be achieved.
“I’m looking forward to really understanding and absorbing the issues, cultures and religions of the region, culminating in a visit to the Old City which I’m very much looking forward to.”
Referring to his earlier visit to Yad Vashem, he said he’d learnt “quite a lot more than I thought I knew about the true horrors” of the Shoah.
The duke’s visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the first time a member of the Royal Family has travelled to the areas at the request of the Government, and something William was keen to do.
It comes during a period of tension in the area – dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during protests this year at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip in the run-up to celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.
In response to the president’s comments William said he was “hoping that peace in the area can be achieved”.
Some warm memories of an historic meeting in #Jerusalem. A true honor to welcome HRH #PrinceWilliam the Duke of Cambridge to the President’s Residence, the first official visit by the the UK @RoyalFamily pic.twitter.com/ykkx9VPuUI
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) June 26, 2018