Palestinians concerned by possible relocation of UK embassy in Israel

UK Prime Minister said she was reviewing the potential move of the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

 A Jerusalem municipality worker hangs an Israeli flag next to the British flag, the Union Jack, as he stands on a platform near Israel's presidential residence in Jerusalem ahead of the upcoming visit of Britain's Prince William, June 25, 2018 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
A Jerusalem municipality worker hangs an Israeli flag next to the British flag, the Union Jack, as he stands on a platform near Israel's presidential residence in Jerusalem ahead of the upcoming visit of Britain's Prince William, June 25, 2018
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

Palestinian 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 Jerusalem.

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 in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid has already said he was grateful that Truss was considering the move.

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

 The Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, hangs at half-mast at the entrance to the British embassy in Tel Aviv on September 9, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) The Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, hangs at half-mast at the entrance to the British embassy in Tel Aviv on September 9, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

How would the move affect British-Palestinian relations?

Should Truss do the same, Shtayyeh said, 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."

British Foreign Office spokesperson

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014.