U.K. Could Move Embassy to Jerusalem, Truss Tells Lapid

British prime minister says the government is 'reviewing current location of embassy in Israel'

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Haaretz
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PM Yair Lapid and British PM Liz Truss meeting in New York on September 21, 2022.
PM Yair Lapid and British PM Liz Truss meeting in New York on September 21, 2022.Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
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Haaretz

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has told her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid that she is considering relocating the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The two leaders met Wednesday in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

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A Downing Street spokeswoman said that Truss informed Lapid “about her review of the current location of the British Embassy in Israel,” according to reports in the British media.

The reports drew rage from Palestinian Authority figures; the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in response that "opening an embassy in Jerusalem amounts to complicity in Israel’s illegal annexation of the city and relentless attempts to assert sovereignty, including through war crimes of forcible displacements, demolitions, and control over holy sites."

The statement continued, "In this connection, the State of Palestine affirms that it will pursue all available legal, diplomatic, and political measures to ensure that Jerusalem and its status are protected." It added, "The international community’s position on Jerusalem is clear: Israel has no rightful claim or sovereignty over Jerusalem, including occupied East Jerusalem, its Old City and its holy sites."

Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the U.K., wrote on Twitter that "It is extremely unfortunate that Prime Minister Liz Truss uses her first appearance at the UN to commit to potentially breaking international law by promising a 'review' of the location of the British embassy to Israel.

"Any embassy move would be a blatant violation of international law and the UK's historic responsibilities. It undermines the two-state solution and inflames an already volatile situation in Jerusalem, the rest of the occupied territories and among communities in the UK and worldwide.
Such promise is immoral, illegal and irresponsible!”

As Foreign Secretary, Truss made similar comments during the Tory leadership contest in a letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel. Truss said she understood the “importance and sensitivity” over the location of the embassy.

During their meeting, Lapid reiterated the need to avoid any further concessions in the negotiations with Iran and stressed that Israel expects a longer-term and stricter deal with the Islamic Republic, which would provide an answer to all of the threats posed by Tehran.

Lapid also expressed deepest condolences on behalf of the Israeli people for the death of Queen Elizabeth II. He also congratulated the British leader on her recent election and expressed his confidence that, under her leadership, relations between the two countries would reach new heights, especially in the fields of commerce and technology.

They also discussed strengthening bilateral ties between Israel and the United Kingdom and agreed to set up teams to negotiate a free-trade agreement as quickly as possible.

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