Palestinians Nervous Over Possible Relocation of UK Embassy in Israel

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaking to the media in Ramallah. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/File Photo)

RAMALLAH (Reuters) – Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh voiced concern on Monday at Britain’s decision to review the location of its embassy in Israel, fearing it could be moved from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has said she is reviewing whether or not to keep the embassy where it is.

“Any change in the status quo in Jerusalem would undermine the two-state solution and will be considered a tacit recognition of the city’s annexation to Israel, which will encourage the occupying state,” Shtayyeh said at a weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah, where the headquarters of the PA is located.

Israel’s prime minister has already said he was grateful that Truss was considering the move.

The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim in 2018, a move that infuriated Palestinians. Honduras, Guatemala and Kosovo have since followed suit.

Should Truss do the same, Shtayyeh threatened it would hurt Britain’s relations with the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

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.”

Meanwhile, the new PM was less diplomatically correct, describing herself as a “huge Zionist and a huge supporter of Israel,” according to a report in the U.K.-based Jewish News.

Truss’s comments were made at a Conservative Friends of Israel reception, during which she said she will seek to “take the U.K.-Israel relationship from strength to strength.”

“In this world – where we are facing threats from authoritarian regimes who don’t believe in freedom and democracy – two free democracies, the U.K. and Israel, need to stand shoulder to shoulder and we will be even closer in the future,” Truss said, though stopping short of saying that she would change the location of the embassy.

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