Transport Department backtracks after saying UK ‘recognises state of Palestine’

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Transport Department backtracks after saying UK ‘recognises state of Palestine’

Government says information in a letter to Jewish News reader was 'not correct' as investigation launched

Newly installed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London. Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Newly installed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London. Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The Department of Transport has issued an urgent clarification to a letter they sent out to a member of the public which stated “the UK recognises Palestine as an independent state”.

A member of the department’s Aviation Directorate had been responding to a demand for clarification of the UK government’s position on Jerusalem and Israel.

Jewish News reader Darren Lewis had written initially to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on the matter after the minister had tweeted updated advice on travel green list last month.

In a tweet on June 24, Shapps wrote:”Israel and Jerusalem are also added to the green watchlist.”

Emailing the minister one day later Lewis wrote: “Can you please explain to me how Jerusalem is not part of Israel. Is this U.K government policy?”

In a response sent on June 26, Lewis was informed by Shapps’ department: “Jerusalem is claimed by Israel and Palestine, and as the UK recognises Palestine as an independent state, it is referred to as Israel and Jerusalem (including East Jerusalem).”

After Jewish News queried this statement, a spokesperson initially stood by its wording.

But after further protestation the Department of Transport amended their position to reflect that of the UK government.

In a new statement they said: “This correspondence is not correct and does not reflect the Government’s long-standing position. A corrected letter is being sent out from the department and we are investigating this matter.”

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