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Liz Truss ‘acting like Trump’ by moving UK’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

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British prime minister Liz Truss at 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar

British prime minister Liz Truss at 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar

British prime minister Liz Truss at 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar

Liz Truss has suggested she could move the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, triggering warnings the UK prime minister was tearing up international law and acting “like Trump”.

Downing Street said Ms Truss told her Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, “about her review of the current location of the British Embassy in Israel” at a meeting in New York on Wednesday.

Transferring to Jerusalem would be a shift in UK policy as, like most countries, it does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the city.

It would follow the lead of Donald Trump who moved the US embassy there in 2018.

Israel has for years lobbied its allies to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which it claims as its undivided capital.

Only the US, Kosovo, Honduras and Guatemala have done so.

As both Israel and the Palestinians claim the city as their capital, it is one of the most sensitive issues in the world’s longest conflict.

Palestinian leaders have warned that moving to Jerusalem would be a “disaster” for a two-state solution. Israeli officials will probably be delighted that Ms Truss has floated the idea as one of her first major foreign policy moves.

“In international resolutions and international law any change to the status quo in Jerusalem is illegal,” said Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian mission to Britain, citing UN Security Council Resolutions 478 and 2334.

He said moving the embassy would be “a disaster for chances of peace based on the two state-solution as espoused by the UK”, and undermine the post-Brexit “Global Britain” label.

Britain, he said, would be reduced to “a bit player trying to affect Israel’s elections, just as former US president Donald Trump tried to do for former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu”.

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Sources close to Ms Truss said that the issue was “raised in meetings” during her time at the Foreign Office.

They said that as Foreign Secretary, she had been willing to challenge the “house view” which “they would describe as neutrality” but others would see as “singling out Israel for unfair treatment”.

“This reflects a willingness to challenge Whitehall orthodoxy and take a fresh look at things,” the source said. “Certainly Liz was far more positive about the Abraham Accords and there is far more warmth between her and Yair Lapid. She has embraced the relationship with Israel rather than danced around it.”

Stephen Crabb MP, parliamentary chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said he welcomed the review, adding: “This is about correcting a historic inconsistency. I know that within the Foreign Office there is a mixture of different views but Liz is determined to show she is a person of her word.” 

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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