Ambassadors of Arab countries in the United Kingdom wrote to Prime Minister Liz Truss to urge her not to move the British Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, warning that it could obstruct future trade deals.
According to the Guardian newspaper, which did not reveal its sources, the ambassadors sent the jointly-penned letter to Truss just before she traveled to New York for the United General Assembly (UNGA), where she met with her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid and told him her office will review the British embassy's location.
The ambassadors reportedly wrote that the move would be "illegal and ill-judged", with some Arab diplomats warning it could risk preventing a long-negotiated free trade agreement – set to be signed at the end of this year – between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
According to the outlet, the letter's signatories included the ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, who signed the Abraham Accords to normalise relations with Israel in 2020, along with Morocco and later Sudan.
The reason countries who signed the Abraham Accords oppose the UK embassy's potential move to Jerusalem is reportedly because they fear their normalisation with Israel could be seen as a cause for nations to move their embassies to the holy city.
The concept of moving embassies to Jerusalem was initiated by the United States under the administration of former President Donald Trump, who controversially recognised the city as the capital of Israel in 2018 and, in doing so, rejected the idea of East Jerusalem being the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Since then, only Guatemala, Kosovo and Honduras have followed in the footsteps of Washington, with other countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Australia having set up official trade or defence branches in Jerusalem. However, in August, the Honduran foreign ministry said it was considering moving its embassy back to Tel Aviv.
The Guardian quoted an unnamed former British diplomat as calling Truss a "pound-shop Trump" who is trying to emulate the former US president. "She seems to think she should ape Donald Trump. The difference is that the US is big enough to get its way in the Middle East. The UK is not."
That diplomat expressed a pessimistic view of the effects of the potential move, predicting that "If the UK shifted its embassy it would have a domino effect among some countries in the European Union, such as Hungary, but probably not, and will damage British interest in the Arab world."