UK says no plans to change location of diplomatic offices in Israel
MARCO LONGARI (AFP/File)
The United Kingdom has no plans to move it's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the British Foreign Office told i24news Friday.
"The UK has an embassy in Tel Aviv and a consulate-general in Jerusalem. We have no plans to change the location of our diplomatic presence in either Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” a spokesperson with the Foreign Office said.
The statement comes after the former Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove in an oped for The Times newspaper called for Britain to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
"We should show we’re not going to be intimidated by those who want to treat Israel as a second-class state, we’re not going to indulge the antisemitic impulse to apply the double standard," Gove wrote in the oped addressing antisemitism.
"Israel is the only state where we don’t locate our embassy in the nation’s capital and the only ally the Foreign Office has refused to let the Queen visit," he continued, adding "So let’s celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration by moving our embassy to Jerusalem next year and inviting Her Majesty to open it. What are we afraid of?"
The Balfour declaration, published on November 2, 1917, was conveyed in a letter by Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a prominent member of the British Jewish community, and proclaimed Britain's support of the Zionist aspirations and its commitment to the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people.”
By declaring Britain to be Zionism's patron, Balfour's signature completed a process begun twenty years earlier at the First Zionist Congress, held in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland. The Balfour Declaration led the League of Nations to entrust the United Kingdom with the Palestine Mandate in 1922.
Gove's call to move the British embassy comes as US President-elect Donald Trump's transition team on Friday announced the appointment of David Friedman -- an attorney and campaign adviser who backs moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem -- as ambassador to the Jewish state.
Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September that as president he would relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump has not repeated that promise since winning the presidency on November 8, but this week his adviser Kellyanne Conway called the move "a very big priority" for him.
Jerusalem is a contentious issue in final status peace talks between Israel and Palestine, both of which claim Jerusalem as their capital. Many states formally adhere to the United Nations proposal that Jerusalem should have an international status and do not view Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most foreign embassies are stationed in Tel Aviv.
i24news UK and Europe Correspondent Jonathan Sacerdoti contributed to this report
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Michael Gove . Good for you. Didn't realize anyone left in the british gov't wasn't an anti-semite. Nice to hear.