Jerusalem Churches on Edge over Possible UK Embassy Move from Tel Aviv
On Monday, church leaders from Jerusalem said that they were concerned about the potential move of the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the sacred and contested city.
Last month, Liz Truss, the new British Prime Minister, had informed Yair Lapid, her Israeli counterpart about reviewing the location of the UK embassy in the country.
The announcement from the UK premier had raised the possibility of London following in the footsteps of the United States.
In 2018, the former US President Donald Trump had also shifted the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
This move went against decades of international consensus because governments have not given recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of either a Palestinian or Israeli state until they make a lasting peace agreement.
The Jerusalem church heads warned on Monday that the potential shift of the British embassy to the city would end up undermining this principle and also hurt the political negotiations.
Christianity’s holiest site is located in Jerusalem. All denominations in the city are represented by the Heads of the Churches and the Council of the Patriarchs.
It also has Islam’s third holiest site and the holiest site in Judaism as well.
According to the church heads, they can preserve the harmony in Jerusalem only through the religious status quo in the city, which also ensures good relations with other religious communities around the world.
They added that the review of Britain about shifting their embassy implied that there is no need for holding peace talks.
They went on to say that its implications included that the annexation of East Jerusalem as well as the military occupation of these regions are deemed acceptable.
It was during the Six-Day War in 1967 that Israel had managed to get ahold of East Jerusalem as well as West Bank, with the latter considered the site of a number of tales like the birth of Jesus.
The Jerusalem church heads also stated that for about 2,000 years, Christians had resided in the city under different governments and empires.
Therefore, the British government should work on its diplomatic efforts to ensure a peace deal is made between Israel and Palestine and the conflict can come to an end.
The statement from the church leaders in Jerusalem comes after a similar statement was issued by their counterparts in Britain as well.
Last week a spokesperson for Anglican Church’s senior bishop, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that they were worried about the potential impact of moving the UK embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The most senior Catholic cleric in Britain, Cardinal Vincent Nichols had also talked about the topic last Thursday.
He said that if the embassy is relocated, then it would seriously damage the possibility of ever achieving lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.