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UK prime minister hopeful says she will investigate moving embassy to Jerusalem if elected

Liz Truss says it's important to ensure U.K.'s relations with Israel are "on the strongest footing"

Then-British Trade Minister Liz Truss speaks to Reuters after signing a free trade agreement with Singapore, in Singapore, Dec. 10, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Pedja Stanisic/File Photo)

United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she will investigate the possibility of moving Britain’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem if she is voted prime minister in next month’s Conservative Party leadership election.

In a letter addressed to Conservative Friends of Israel, Truss said she understood the importance of the location of the British Embassy in Israel and that many people are sensitive to this issue. 

“I will review a move to ensure we are operating on the strongest footing within Israel,” she wrote, noting she has discussed this topic many times with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv would break with the U.K.'s policy of remaining neutral on Jerusalem, the eastern side of which is claimed by Palestinians as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Currently, only four nations, including the United States, have moved their embassies and officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Truss showed her support for Israel last Friday at the onset of Operation Breaking Dawn. 

“The UK stands by Israel and its right to defend itself. We condemn terrorist groups firing at civilians and violence which has resulted in casualties on both sides. We call for a swift end to the violence,” she tweeted.

In her letter to Conservative Friends of Israel, she also wrote that she “remain[s] committed to standing up to Iranian hostility and their pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

Truss said that talks about the Iranian nuclear deal are “not moving fast enough and I assure you that if the JCPOA collapses, all options are on the table.”

Israel is opposed to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) preferring that more robust and longer-lasting limitations be placed on Iran’s nuclear program.

In contrast, former chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak – the other Conservative candidate – wrote in his letter to the pro-Israel group that he prefers “a new, strengthened nuclear deal that extends the sunset clauses, lengthens the breakout period and curtails Iran’s ballistic missile program.”

“The credible threat of snapback sanctions, which has so far been missing from the negotiations, is the only way we can force Iran to seriously engage with these proposals,” he wrote. “Iran’s quest for regional hegemony and the threat it poses to Israel concerns me deeply. We cannot allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon and the UK and Israel must enhance our diplomatic, defense and intelligence cooperation to prevent this from happening.”

Sunak called for the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, as it did in recent years with regard to Hamas and Hezbollah.

He also mentioned his work as minister for the local government when he pressured municipalities to cease boycotting Israel. 

“We must now deliver on our manifesto commitment and bring forward the [BDS] bill to outlaw it in full,” he stated.

Truss also stressed in her letter the need to ensure that local councils no longer engage in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policies against Israel, which she said are “discriminatory” and “go against the stance of this government.”

She said she would also push for the abolition of Agenda Item 7 in the United Nations Human Rights Council, a permanent agenda item targeting Israel.

Praising the Abraham Accords, Sunak said “the U.K. has a responsibility to leverage its strong ties with other Gulf states to expand the number of signatories to the agreement.”

He also mentioned a meeting he had earlier this year with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, adding that he will prioritize finalizing a free trade agreement with Israel if he becomes prime minister. 

The U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party will be choosing a new leader next month following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s forced resignation after dozens of ministers quit in protest to his leadership. Sunak and Truss are the current candidates following a first round of voting by members of Parliament.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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