Sunak Abandons Controversial Plans to Move British Embassy to Jerusalem

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel (Photo Source: LinkedIn)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dropped his predecessor’s controversial plans to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving the British embassy to Jerusalem. The move would have followed the example set by former U.S. President, Donald Trump.

“There are no plans to move the British Embassy from Tel Aviv,” a Downing Street spokesman. The confirmation was made after Sunak replaced Liz Truss, who was MP for just 44 days before resigning.

The Palestinian Mission in London immediately welcomed the clarification. “We would like to thank the UK government, opposition parties, faith leaders, activists, and members of the public whose efforts have helped keep the UK in line with international law on the matter,” said Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot.

The U-turn appeared to be a policy reversal by Sunak. In August, he told the Conservative Friends of Israel  that Jerusalem was Israel’s “undisputed capital”. And that there was a “very strong case” for relocating the UK embassy there.

At a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, Truss told her then-Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, that she was carrying out a “review of the current location of the British Embassy in Israel.”

Previously, she declared at a CFI meeting that she was a “huge Zionist” and “a huge supporter of Israel”.

Warned against moving embassy to Jerusalem

Truss was warned by politicians, religious leaders, other countries, as well as Palestinians, not to follow the example set by Trump.

“This would be a breach of UN Security Council resolutions by one of its permanent members, breaking a longstanding commitment to work for two states for Israelis and Palestinians. And align Britain in foreign affairs with Donald Trump,” said former British foreign secretary William Hague, among others.

Labour MP Naz Shah also warned it would be a “catalyst of uncontrollable catastrophic events” if she went ahead with it. “To do so otherwise would contravene international law, negatively impact our relationships in the Middle East, bring no valuable benefits to British interests, and establish a terrible precedent against the backdrop of Russia’s occupation of Ukraine,” Shah said. Since taking office, Sunak has reversed many of his predecessor’s policies that led Truss to become the shortest-serving British PM.