Rishi Sunak abandons Truss plan to move British embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Rishi Sunak has abandoned moves by his predecessor to relocate Britain’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Downing Street has disclosed.

Liz Truss, when she was prime minister, ordered a review into whether the UK should follow the Trump administration in moving its embassy from Tel Aviv.

She told her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid she was considering the switch.

However, a No 10 spokeswoman told reporters on Thursday: “It has been looked at. There are no plans to move the British embassy.”

The move was welcomed by Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian mission ambassador to Britain, who 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.”

He added: “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 switch would have meant Britain following the United States, Kosovo, Honduras and Guatemala in having their embassies in Jerusalem.

Before Ms Truss, Britain’s position was that Jerusalem should be the shared capital of Israel and a Palestinian state, and so having an embassy there would imply recognition of the city as the capital of Israel.

Former foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan warned last month that moving the embassy would be “reckless and unprincipled”.

Sara Husseini, director of the British Palestinian Committee, said relocation would represent “a significant departure from long-held British policy and a direct contravention of international law.”

Writing in The Independent, she added: “As an effective recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, it would be a decisive step away from a just future and have deep repercussions extending beyond Palestine.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also said he was “concerned about the potential impact” of the change “before a negotiated settlement between Palestinians and Israelis has been reached.”

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