The head of the Catholic Conference of Bishops in England and Wales has warned Prime Minister Liz Truss over ‘seriously damaging’ consequences regarding plans to relocate the UK’s embassy in Israel.
Writing on Twitter, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said he believes moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would hinder any “possibility of lasting peace in the region” and would damage the “international reputation of the United Kingdom”.
It’s understood Liz Truss discussed the idea with her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid last month during the United Nations’ General Assembly.
This is a very sensitive issue as both Israelis and Palestinians consider Jerusalem to be their capital.
Former US President Donald Trump moved the American embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 sparking a lot of criticism including from Theresa May.
Cardinal Nichols wrote: “I have written to the Prime Minister to express profound concern over her call for a review of the location of the British Embassy to the State of Israel, with the suggestion that it might be moved away from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Such a relocation of the UK Embassy would be seriously damaging to any possibility of lasting peace in the region and to the international reputation of the United Kingdom.
“Pope Francis and the leaders of churches in the Holy Land have long called for the international Status Quo on Jerusalem to be upheld, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions. The city must be shared as a common patrimony, never becoming an exclusive monopoly of any party.
“I can see no valid reason why a move needs now to be considered. I ask the Prime Minister earnestly to reconsider the intention she has expressed and to focus all efforts on seeking a two-state solution, in which Jerusalem would have a guaranteed special status.”
A spokesperson for the British government's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office told Reuters in a statement that Truss "understands the importance and sensitivity of the location of the British embassy in Israel".
"We are undertaking a review of the current location to ensure that we are in the best possible position to continue promoting British interests in Israel, peace and stability in the region, and in support of a two-state solution," the spokesperson said. "We will not speculate on the outcome of any review before it concludes."