Israeli President Reuven Rivlin asked the visiting UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, to pass an invitation to the British Royal Family to visit Israel on Wednesday (8 March).

The former Mayor of London is understood to be keen for the engagement to take place to mark the centenary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration – when Britain signalled its support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in a then Ottoman-ruled Palestine.

Senior sources in Britain indicated that the first official visit was likely and will be considered by the Foreign Visits Committee – a body that includes senior civil servants and courtiers.

The Balfour Declaration signalled Britain's agreement to "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people". Any trip may be viewed as controversial since Britain has been asked to apologise for distributing land when they had no right to.

Which Royal Family member would make the official state visit to Israel?

As it stands, the Queen nor Prince Charles are likely to be asked to conduct the official state visit. More junior members of the Royal Family may be asked, such as Princess Anne or Prince Edward.

The visit and Johnson's apparent eagerness to set up the royal engagement marks a drastic change in policy, as British Government officials were thought to have blocked royal visits to Israel since the nation was established in 1948. It was understood that it a royal visit could only happen when a lasting peace deal was secured between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.

And while no official visit has taken place, Prince Edward made a "semi-official" visit in 2007 to Israel to present prizes of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Reuven Rivlin Israel President
Reuven Rivlin is Israel's president GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images

British Royal Family's history with Israel

In 1994, Prince Philip made a private visit to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to see the grave of his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, She sheltered Jewish people from the Nazis in Athens during the Second World War and was given the title 'Righteous Among the Nations'.

Prince Charles also made visits to Israel in 1995 and 2016 for the funerals of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and President Shimon Peres.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Decisions on where members of the Royal Family visit on behalf of Her Majesty's Government are taken by the Royal Visits Committee and include advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Any invitation will be considered in the normal way."

Afghanistan service
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, leave St Paul's Cathedral Ben Stansall/AFP

Perhaps making 2017 the start of a new relationship with Israel, Prime Minister Theresa May has already invited Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to visit Britain to mark the centenary of the former foreign secretary Arthur Balfour's support for a Jewish homeland.

Palestine controversy

Pro-Palestinian academics have called on the British government to apologise for the "disastrous" role of the Balfour declaration, however, potentially raising eyebrows about a forthcoming royal visit to Israel.

Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: "It is grossly inappropriate for the royal family to make an official visit to Israel 100 years after the Balfour declaration.

"The consequences of this dispossession are still experienced by Palestinians today, whether living as unequal citizens within the state of Israel, as refugees or under military occupation.

"The British government should be reflecting on its complicity in these events, offering an apology to the Palestinian people and putting pressure on Israel to abide by international law," The Independent reports," he added.

Boris Johnson
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks at the British Chambers of Commerce conference Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP