Welby voices concern over potential move of British embassy to Jerusalem

Posted on October 8, 2022Comments Off on Welby voices concern over potential move of British embassy to Jerusalem

The archbishop of Canterbury has expressed concern at the potential for the British embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The UK prime minister, Liz Truss, told her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid at the United Nations summit in New York last month that she was considering the relocation.

If the embassy was to be moved it would follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump’s controversial decision to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a move that prompted international condemnation and protests.

Justin Welby is concerned about the possible implications of such a change before a negotiated settlement has been reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

The UK has long maintained its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv despite Israel designating Jerusalem as its capital.

In a statement to Jewish News on Friday, a spokesperson for Welby said: “The archbishop is concerned about the potential impact of moving the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before a negotiated settlement between Palestinians and Israelis has been reached.

“He is in touch with Christian leaders in the Holy Land and continues to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman previously said Truss had informed Lapid “about her review of the current location of the British embassy in Israel”, at the UN summit in September.

Truss had also said she understands the “importance and sensitivity” over its location.

Some Arab diplomats have urged Truss not to go ahead with the move and said it could potentially jeopardise a free trade deal between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council that was due to be completed this year.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have also voiced their concerns about the review, with the latter’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Layla Moran, warning against a “provocation”.

“The UK should under no circumstances be taking steps which risk inflaming tensions and damaging the prospects of peace,” she said.

“I have written to the foreign secretary to make clear that moving the embassy should only come as part of a negotiated peace settlement between Israel and Palestine, and that this review should accordingly be stopped.”

A Labour spokesperson told Middle East Eye: “Our position on this hasn’t changed – Labour does not support the move. We do not want the move to happen and we will oppose it.”

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