In October 2022 at a Conservative Friends of Israel fringe event at the Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Truss made a thoughtless commitment to consider moving the British embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. She then repeated it to the press with the Israeli Prime Minister in New York.
Following those statements, JJP lobbied against such a move on grounds of justice and international law. We wrote to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Labour Shadow Minister for the Middle East, the Liberal Democrat Foreign Policy Spokesperson, and the Church of England.
Our letter to the Religious Affairs Adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury is below.
Dr Richard Sudworth 12 October 2022
Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs
Church of England
Dear Dr Sudworth,
We are writing to ask for another zoom meeting. We would like to discuss two issues on which we think the Church should speak out.
First is Prime Minister Truss’s surprising and deeply troubling announcement of considering whether to move the British Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. That move would take the UK down Donald Trump’s racist road of setting Israeli rights above those of Palestinians, and more broadly of setting international law at nought. Many Muslims and Christians would justifiably see moving the embassy in racist, discriminatory terms, which could well damage community relations in this country.
We were gratified to read the Archbishop’s statement of “concern” last Friday, but urge him to speak out more strongly, both publicly and privately.
Second is the Israeli Government’s closure in July of seven internationally respected Palestinian human rights organisations. The Israeli army raided their West Bank offices, confiscated their files and equipment, welded the doors shut and ordered them to stop operating. Ten months earlier, the Israeli Minister of Defence had designated six of them as terrorist organisations, which, under Israeli law, authorised the government to take the actions which it subsequently took. It also meant that the organisations’ staff could be jailed and that Israelis could be prohibited from funding them or even publicly expressing support for their activities.
Needless to say, the Israeli government acted without anything resembling due process. Israel demanded that the EU and western governments also designate the organisations as terrorist organisations and accordingly stop funding them. Neither the EU, nor the funding countries, nor the American Administration believed the “proof” provided by Israel during the following 10 months. They all rejected Israel’s repeated demands.
Clearly, the Israeli government is intent on shutting down Palestinian NGOs that provide credible evidence of Israeli human rights abuses. We urge the Archbishop to speak out against the designations and closures, and to demand the organisations be allowed to reopen.
I hope to hear from you shortly to arrange a zoom meeting..
Arthur Goodman, Diplomatic and Parliamentary Officer