Britain’s Conservative Party leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak claimed on Monday that there is a “very strong case” for moving the British Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and formally recognising the latter as the “historic capital city” of the occupation state. His comment was made during a Q&A session with members of Zionist lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, Sunak told the audience that he considered Jerusalem to be “the undisputed capital” of Israel and said there was “a very strong case for it to be recognised” if he becomes prime minister. However, he warned the audience that he had never been Foreign Secretary and therefore was not aware of the “sensitivities” of the issue. Nevertheless, he reiterated that the case was “very strong”.
Sunak was also asked about the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to pass legislation opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In response, he cited his record as a local government minister when, in 2018, the government moved to stop investment policies that contradict British foreign and defence policies, including BDS.
The BDS and Sanctions Bill seeks to prevent local authorities from “adopting their own approach to international relations.” It was drafted following a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to protect Israel from this entirely peaceful means of protest against its brutal military occupation of Palestine..
“As prime minister, we need to make sure that we do pass that bill opposing BDS. It’s a manifesto commitment, it shouldn’t be controversial, and I’d like to crack on and do it as quickly as possible.”
The leadership hopeful then criticised Amnesty International’s conclusion that Israel imposes a system of “apartheid” on the Palestinians. “This is an organisation that has lost its way because these places are being infected by a very dangerous kind of lefty-oriented ideology, which we must root out.”
In response, Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth told the: “Rishi Sunak is wrong about Amnesty. It’s not a ‘lefty’ thing to call for an end to Israel’s system of apartheid or to press the Ukrainian military to do all they can to ensure they’re not endangering civilians; no government is beyond scrutiny.”
Defending human rights isn’t party political or left- or right-wing, he added. “We’d urge Rishi Sunak to look at the details of what we’ve said, including our reports on Russian war crimes in Ukraine and the numerous human rights abuses of Palestinian armed groups and the Palestinian authorities.”