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‘Weak’ UK Government denounced after Trump’s Jerusalem announcement

Image of British Prime Minister Theresa May on 4 June 2017 [Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency]
British Prime Minister Theresa May on 4 June 2017 [Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency]

The British Conservative government has been condemned over its relations with Donald Trump during a parliament debate this morning discussing the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said Theresa May’s government had been made to look like “fools”,  “weak” and “entirely without influence” following yesterday’s provocative decision by Trump to undermine international consensus and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Thornberry made her remarks during Urgent Question in the House of Commons on Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The MP for Islington South and Finsbury said that yesterday’s decision was “a blow to the hopes of peace”. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the transfer of US embassy “confers legitimacy to Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem”, she explained.

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With this decision, Donald Trump didn’t just shout fire in a crowded theatre, explained Thornberry, the US President had “set the theatre on fire” himself.

Protesting that the occupation had no basis in international law and that it was an obstacle to peace, Thornberry inquired what the UK government was going to do next, while pointing out that Number 10 had “indulged” the behaviour of a “bully” in reference to Trump. She denounced the Tory policy of “holding his [Trump] hand and hugging him close, indulging him with the offer of a state visit”. This she said was not the way to wield influence and shape policies.

Thornberry’s condemnation of Trump and the Tory government’s policy echoed denunciations of Trump’s decision by Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In a tweet, yesterday, the Labour leader said: “Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a reckless threat to peace. The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict.”

MP’s also questioned America’s ability to remain a fair mediator between the two parties. Alistair Burt, Minister of State for International Development, said that other states would have to fill the gap left by the United States after the president’s announcement.

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The Conservative MP revealed that the UK was co-sponsoring a meeting with European partners tomorrow at the UN Security Council where the issue will be discussed. Burt went on to say: “The nature of the United States as a broker in the region will have been affected: that is I’m sure something that we’re going to discuss tomorrow at the UN as to how the process can be taken forward.

“The United States will continue to play an important part but there is no doubt that there’s a trust deficit because of yesterday’s announcement and it is for other states to fill that gap in order to make sure that the prospects for peace are not diminished.”

Burt also faced calls from MPs to recognise Palestine as a state, but said: “Recognition of the state of Palestine I don’t think is necessarily a consequence of what we have heard yesterday. It is not a tit-for-tat, it is more important than that.”

“Accordingly it should be a decision made by the United Kingdom,” continued Burt, “at a time when we believe it is in the best interests of the process of peace.”

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