PM vows to ‘speak to President Trump’ about plan to move US embassy to Jerusalem
UK has no plans to follow suit and still believes disputed city should form a shared capital for Israelis and Palestinians under a two-state solution
Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear Britain will not follow suit if US President Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
US officials have said the president will declare on Wednesday that he is to start the process of moving the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, reversing decades of American policy.
But Mrs May said Britain would not alter its position that Jerusalem should eventually form a shared capital for Israelis and Palestinians under a two-state solution.
Asked at Prime Minister’s Questions whether she had been consulted on the move by the US president, Mrs May said: “I’m intending to speak to President Trump about this matter. But, our position has not changed.”
The comments came after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson voiced “concern” over the expected announcement by Mr Trump.
He said: “Let’s wait and see what the president says exactly, but we view the reports that we have heard with concern, because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a negotiated settlement that we want to see.”
The expected move by Mr Trump has sparked consternation around the world, amid fears that it could provoke violent protests by Palestinians who may view it as America dropping its long-standing position of neutrality in the Middle East peace process to side with Israel.
Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian general delegate to the UK, said the move would “kill the peace process” and provoke a violent reaction.
“He’s declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims, hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept their holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel, let alone that East Jerusalem has always been known as … the future capital of Palestine.”
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said: “Even by Donald Trump’s abysmally low standards, to choose this point to move the US embassy and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a breathtakingly-dangerous decision, which will not just set back the hopes of finding a political settlement between Israel and Palestine, but threatens to trigger even greater instability and radicalisation throughout the Middle East.”
Reports of Mr Trump’s plan sparked security warnings on Tuesday, with US personnel and their families ordered to avoid visiting Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank.
The US has never previously endorsed the Jewish state’s claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, insisting its status must be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.
Officials said that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be an acknowledgement of “historical and current reality”, rather than an intervention in the politics of the peace process.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he reminded Mr Trump in a phone call on Monday that the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations on a two-state solution for the Middle East.