Rishi Sunak ‘backtracks over Jerusalem embassy move’

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Rishi Sunak ‘backtracks over Jerusalem embassy move’

A Downing Street spokesperson has now insisted there are 'no plans to move the UK embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Liz Truss (centre) with Israel's minister Orna Barbivai (left) and envoy Tzipi Hotovely (right)
Liz Truss (centre) with Israel's minister Orna Barbivai (left) and envoy Tzipi Hotovely (right)

Rishi Sunak appears to have backtracked on a pledge made by ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss to “review” moving the location of the UK embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

A statement put out by the Palestinian Mission, London, said it welcomed “the clarification by 10 Downing Street today that ‘the UK has no plans to move its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv.'”

The Prime Minister’s apparent u-turn came just one week after a Downing Street spokesperson said they would provide an update on the status of the Truss pledge to “review” moving the embassy from Tel Aviv.

Reporters had quizzed Sunak’s spokesperson on whether he planned to honour a similar commitment, made during the Tory leadership campaign.

In August, Sunak told a hustings hosted by the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) that Jerusalem was Israel’s “undisputed capital” and said there was a “very strong case” for relocating the UK embassy there.

But responding to a question from the New Arab news site a Downing Street spokesperson said on Wednesday:”There are no plans to move the UK embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv.”

The proposal to move the embassy sparked fierce opposition from many in the UK Jewish community.

Although Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl was amongst those to state she backed the plan.

Critics said a move of the embassy should only take place once a final two-state solution with the Palestinians was complete.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassdor in the UK welcomed the change in stance on the embassy issue.

In a statement on Wednesday he said: “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.

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

“There is much work to be done to create a conducive environment for peace in the Middle East and make amends for the historic injustice caused by the Balfour Declaration, 105 years ago.

“We call on the British government to play an active role, recognise the State of Palestine, affirm the UK’s support for the rights of Palestinian refugees, ban all illegal goods and products from settlement in occupied territories and sanction companies working in and profiting from them.

“The full and equal application of international law is the way forward towards a lasting and just peace.”

Jewish News has contacted Downing Street for comment.

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