PM Sunak Scraps Planning to Move British Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has apparently scrapped plans to look at moving Britain’s embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite previously claiming to support its recognition.

Prime Minister Sunak’s short-lived predecessor as premier, Liz Truss, said she would “review a move” of the British embassy to Israel during her campaign for the Conservative Party leadership in August, following in the footsteps of President Donald Trump.

While the State of Israel officially regards Jerusalem as its capital, and key institutions including the Knesset (legislature), Supreme Court, central bank, and several government ministries are sited there, principally in the neighbourhood of Givat Ram, most Western countries do not recognise it as such and have their embassies commute into the city from bases in Tel Aviv, in order to appease the Palestinian Authority and various Islamic polities.

Sunak, who lost to Liz Truss in the Conservative Party leadership race but was installed by fellow MPs shortly afterwards without an election anyway, does not appear willing to buck this trend, with a spokesman for 10 Downing Street that a move had been “looked at” but there are now “no plans to move the British embassy,” according to the left-wing Guardian.

This is despite the fact that, while he was running for leader in August, Sunak claimed he believed that Jerusalem was “undisputedly the historic capital” of Israel and that there was “clearly” a “very strong case for it to be recognised” as such.

“[I]t is something I would like to do,” he added.

The fact he will apparently not be doing so has been welcomed by Husam Said Zomlot, Head of the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom.

“We would like thank the UK government, faith leaders, activists and members of the public whose efforts have helped keep the UK in line with international law in this matter,” Zomlot said.

“The question about the location of the UK’s embassy should never have been asked for in the first place.”

Sunak’s climbdown follows an even more dramatic about-face by Australia’s relatively new leftist government, which reversed a decision to recognise even West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — East Jerusalem, only annexed by Israel in 1980, was not part of the recognition — earlier this month, souring relations with the Israeli government.

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