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World News

Church leaders urge Liz Truss to abandon any relocation of British Embassy to Jerusalem

by Donna Birrell

Church leaders have sent a private letter to the Prime Minister urging her to abandon the possible relocation of the British Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

The letter was signed by the Church of Scotland, the Church of England, United Reformed Church, Methodist Church in Great Britain, Quakers in Britain, Christian Aid, and other churches and Christian humanitarian organisations with a long history of working with Palestinians and Israelis striving for peace.

It urges Liz Truss to drop the proposals and follows a statement released by the Council of the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem, which said it was "gravely concerned" at Liz Truss's plans.   

In the letter, the signatories reminded Ms Truss that "The Holy Land Co-ordination, mandated by the Holy See, and made up of Christian church leaders from around the world, after its May 2022 visit stated: 'Jerusalem is a Jewish city, a Christian city, a Muslim city. It must remain a common patrimony and never become the exclusive monopoly of any one religion. It is our right and duty as Christians to uphold the city's openness and universality'."

Kenny Roger, the Church of Scotland's Middle East Secretary told Premier any relocation would be contentious: "We believe it could have quite a significant impact on the religious aspects of Jerusalem itself. Listening to the heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Archbishop of Canterbury and other denominations within the UK. We believe it's important that we speak out about the problems that this may cause.

"For us, moving the embassy would be a statement that the UK doesn't really care about the status quo, doesn't really believe in a negotiated settlement, because by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, we end up with a scenario where we are perhaps taking away the possibility of it ever being a shared capital, by recognising it as Israel's capital. It's really important to understand that there is a large number of Palestinians who still believe that Jerusalem would be a shared capital in any negotiated solution."

Last month Liz Truss confirmed in a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid that she would review the location of the British Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It would echo the move made by former US President Donald Trump when he relocated the US Embassy.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, said: 

"The General Assembly has consistently supported a negotiated solution to the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territory, which includes East Jerusalem, and unilateral UK action to move its embassy would not support efforts to see a peaceful, long-term resolution of this historic injustice."

The letter concluded with a warning that "a review of the location of the embassy would only send a negative signal that would not serve the interests of a sustainable and just peace for all, Palestinian and Israelis alike."


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