Liz Truss could follow Trump and move the British embassy to Jerusalem | Israel

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Liz Truss has said she is considering moving the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a controversial move that would break with decades of British foreign policy to follow in Donald Trump’s footsteps.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the prime minister told Israel’s interim leader, Yair Lapidabout a “review of the current location” of the building, Downing Street said in a statement.

The status of Jerusalem, which Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital, is one of them most sensitive topics in the protracted conflict.

East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has been considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Like the vast majority of the international community, Britain’s position until now has been that the shared city should host consulates rather than embassies until a final peace agreement is reached.

Trump’s 2018 fulfillment of a election campaign promise recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital drew international condemnation and led to protests and clashes in which Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians. The then British Prime Minister Theresa May criticized the move back then.

On Thursday, the Israeli prime minister tweeted his thanks to Truss for what he described as “positively considering” the move. “We will continue to strengthen the partnership between the countries,” he said.

I thank my good friend, British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who announced that she is positively considering moving the British Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel – we will continue to strengthen the partnership between the countries 🇮🇱🇬🇧

Photo: Avi Ohion, LAM

— Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) 22 September 2022

The Guardian understands the embassy move was one of a number of options presented to Truss by Foreign Office staff in late 2021 during her tenure as Foreign Secretary. However, she made no significant policy changes during her two years at the Foreign Office.

It appears that the Prime Minister first publicly floated the idea of ​​moving the embassy in a letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) parliamentary group during Tory leadership campaign over the summer.

She wrote: “I understand the importance and sensitivity of the location of the British Embassy in Israel. I have had many conversations with my good friend … Lapid on this subject. Recognizing that, I will go through a step for to ensure that we operate on the strongest basis in Israel.”

At a hearing with the CFI, she vowed that “under my leadership, Israel will have no stronger friend in the world. I have done that as Secretary of State and Secretary of Commerce. I don’t just talk the talk – I walk the walk.”

Pressed in the House of Commons on September 6 by backbench Tory MP Michael Fabricant to follow the US and move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Foreign Secretary Amanda Milling said: “The British embassy to Israel is in Tel Aviv. I am aware of the possibility of a review but will not speculate further on this point.”

Her remarks suggest the overhaul is only just getting started, but proponents of the movement within the conservative party argue the proposal will prove less controversial than even a few years ago because of the precedent-setting Trump administration , and thaw in relationships between Israel and some Arab countries after the Abraham Accords.

Downing Street has been contacted to explain how long the review will take.

Apart from the United States, only three states have embassies to Israel in Jerusalem – Kosovo, Honduras and Guatemala – all of which moved from Tel Aviv after the American withdrawal.

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