Photo: Flash90, Avi Ohayon (GPO)

UK mulls Jerusalem embassy move

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was informed of the development during talks with his British counterpart on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

By Erin Viner

A spokeswoman for Downing Street confirmed that United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss spoke with Lapid “about her review of the current location of the British Embassy in Israel” from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Israeli Premier expressed appreciation on his official Twitter account, writing, “I thank my good friend, British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who announced that she is positively considering moving the British Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel – we will continue to strengthen the partnership between the countries.”

Back in August, then-UK Foreign Minister Truss told the Conservative Friends of Israel group that she would consider such a move if she assumed the premiership. “I understand the importance and sensitivity of the location of the British Embassy in Israel. I’ve had many conversations with my good friend Prime Minister Yair Lapid on this topic,” she said at the time.

The 47-year-old leader replaced Boris Johnson as Britain’s Prime Minister on 6 September.

The world power’s relocation of the diplomatic compound to Jerusalem would be a move of major significance in Israel’s campaign for international recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.

The United States was the first country to do so in 2017 with the relocation of its embassy there the following year. GuatemalaHonduras and Kosovo have also opened embassies in Jerusalem, while Equatorial Guinea and Malawi have also pledged to do so. Hungary, the Czech Republic and Colombia have also opened diplomatic or trade offices in the city.

While congratulating the new British leader on taking office,  a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said he “expressed confidence that under their leadership, ties between Israel and the United Kingdom will reach new heights in various fields, in particular the economy, innovation and security.

He also expressed deep condolences on behalf of the people of Israel over the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; who had formally entrusted Truss with forming the new government two days before her death. Israeli President Isaac Herzog represented the Jewish State at last week’s funeral for the late British monarch.

During discussion on Iran, Prime Minister Lapid emphasized “the necessity of avoiding further compromises” with the Islamic Republic and “further emphasized that Israel’s expectation is the advancement of a longer and stronger deal that will provide a response to the full range of threats” emanating from the country,” said the PMO.

The United Kingdom is one of the world powers engaged in efforts to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran – which is in a current state of deadlock over Tehran’s demands.