The Head of the Arab League has urged the British Foreign Secretary to “refrain from taking any legal action” to move the United Kingdom’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as the new Prime Minister and government considers making the controversial move.
At a reception hosted by the Arab Ambassadors’ Council in London on Tuesday, during the Conservative Party conference, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, condemned Prime Minister Liz Truss’s recent statements that her government is considering moving the British embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Truss told her Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, last month that her office will review the British embassy’s location, and reiterated those intentions to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). At a CFI event on the sidelines of the Conference earlier this week, Truss also called herself “a huge Zionist” and a “supporter of Israel” who aims to “take the UK-Israel relationship from strength to strength”.
In his address, Gheit expressed the Arab League’s “concern over the recent statements by Prime Minister Truss on reviewing the location of the UK embassy in Israel,” stating that “I reiterate our rejection and condemnation of any unilateral decisions that might breach the legal or the historical status of the holy city of Jerusalem or to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which is the occupying power according to international law.”
He called on the British government, Truss, and Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, “to abide by the two-state solution and refrain from taking any illegal action that could compromise this formula as a basis for the final settlement.”
Prior to watching that address, Cleverly told the reception that he will “renew his journey of knowledge and understanding of the Arab world”, calling it “the fulcrum point in our world” and “influential, far beyond its geography”.
The Foreign Secretary also stated that “It is a place of huge opportunity and it is also, sadly, a place of challenge and turbulence. But, together, I know we can all work to address the challenges and difficulties that the region faces and make the most of the opportunities that the future brings.”
Gheit’s appeal to the British government comes amid concerns that a potential move of the embassy to Jerusalem would seriously impact ties between the UK and Arab States, and that it could threaten trust in future relations.
That is especially the case with those in the Gulf region, with reports revealing that Arab diplomats wrote to Truss to warn that it could risk preventing a free-trade agreement between the UK and the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries which is set to be signed by the end of the year.
According to the Emirati news outlet, The National, one unnamed senior Conservative figure told it that “Arab leaders are not only baffled by this move but are angry that it could bring harm to the Abraham Accords. We are told this is not particularly welcomed by senior figures in Israel and certainly not by the Gulf States and will damage Britain’s standing in the Arab world.”