MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

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MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by Brown »

MS-8: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Issue: Since the nation's founding, the state of Israel has been constantly under threat by forces around the globe seeking to encroach upon their territory, undermine their national sovereignty, and in many cases, wipe the Jewish race from the face of the Earth. One source of constant tension between Israel, Palestine, and the many nations that are entrenched on either side of this conflict has been the status of Jerusalem. The Holy City is of paramount importance to many, particularly to those who practice the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths. It is also important to the territorial integrity of Israel, to its sense of national identity, and to its ability to physically protect itself and its people from the ever present threat of Hamas and other terrorist groups.

The debate surrounding Jerusalem as Israel's capital has also been used by many to delegitimize the state of Israel, and to diminish the Jewish people's ancestral claim to the city. In the hopes of settling this debate Israel has encouraged its many allies for decades to come to their aid and offer formal recognition of the Jerusalem as the nation's capital. To date, the United Kingdom has failed to answer that call.

Intervention and Implementation: Effective immediately the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland formally recognizes Jerusalem as the legal capital of the state of Israel. The United Kingdom's existing consulate in Jerusalem will become our country's official embassy, and the former embassy in Tel-Aviv will become a British consulate. It will become the official policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to conduct diplomacy with foreign nations within the understanding that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Additionally, official Government maps depicting the Middle East will be drawn to reflect Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel.

This order does not constitute an official position from the British Government about where a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state should lie. The Government is not taking a position on any final status issues, or the resolution of currently contested borders within Jerusalem or across the state of Israel. The United Kingdom remains resolutely committed to our long standing position that all relevant parties should work towards achieving a lasting peace agreement, and that the peoples of Israel and Palestine deserve to live in peace, in security, and to enjoy the full rights afforded to all human beings. This order solely seeks to affirm that, as a matter of official policy, the British Government hereby recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Funding: The Government will be prepared to offer any funding necessary in order to cover costs related to moving or security that arise as a result of establishing the British embassy in Jerusalem.
Mr. Speaker,

While this statement speaks largely for itself, I wish to add a few brief words on this important matter. I understand that some in this House will have concerns that somehow, this statement represents a major change in the United Kingdom's commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East. I wish to assuage these fears by making it clear: Her Majesty's Government remains committed to peace in the Middle East, and finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

As the statement makes clear, we remain committed to peace between these two parties, and will do everything possible, with the help of our International Partners, to facilitate this resolution. The facts, however, exist Mr. Speaker, and the obvious fact of the matter is that Israel designates its capital as Jerusalem, and as their ally Britain should do the same. It is not our place to dictate the internal affairs of Israel. Rather, this is a simple action to recognize what is proclaimed by a country that is a close ally to the United Kingdom: that recognizes their claim that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

While this should be a matter of diplomatic minutiae, it is unfortunate that certain groups have used this situation to inflame tensions, to further divisions, and have used this opportunity to engage in political grandstanding that has, unfortunately, resulted in civil unrest here in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to take this opportunity to say that on behalf of the Prime Minister and the whole of Her Majesty’s Government: we condemn this violence and the evil acts of hatred we have seen directed at our fellow citizens. As the Prime Minister said earlier today, there is no place for it in British society.

This Government stands for the rule of law. We stand for peace in the Middle East, and here on the streets of London. This Government respects the right for peaceful protest, which, unfortunately, many nations in the world do not--and we will defend that right vehemently, but we shall not tolerate the scenes that we have seen today. Scenes that demonstrate utter contempt and disrespect not only for one of our allies, but also for our own history and our own heroes.

Therefore, I commend this statement to the House, with my earnest prayers and hopes that we can put the ugliness the past behind us, and seek a better future--respecting the dignity of all human lives, rejecting all aspects of anti-Semitism, and finding a peaceful yet just solution to these divisions.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by Ashton Edwards »

As the Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy):

Mr Speaker,

I hope that the Right Honourable Member will allow me to say at least in the second part of his statement, the Opposition is in agreement: the right to peaceful protest is a strong foundation for our society and that there is no place for violent or hateful speech. A policy like this one, as disagreeable or concerning as it is, should never ever be justification for violence and hatred against others. The Right Honourable Member for Workington made that point clear in an address to the public recently. We are aligned.

Now, to turn to what the Government is calling a bit of “diplomatic minutiae.” I’m afraid that, like the situation in the Middle East, that is an attempt to simplify what is a very complex situation that needs to be treated with the gravitas and respect it deserves. Peace in the Middle East has been elusive and it is people that are paying the price for that, and the Opposition continues to hope to progress towards a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

In this light, this announcement cannot be seen as a matter of “diplomatic minutiae.” It is not.

The Right Honourable Member is right in saying that Israel recognises Jerusalem as its capital, though it was not always so. Prior to the 1948 War, Israel accepted the principle of a divided Jerusalem. Even after capturing West Jerusalem in 1948, Israel pushed for a Jerusalem that would have separate zones for Jewish and Arab administration. In the 1967 War, Israel captured East Jerusalem, and in legislative acts and political statements since then, Israeli leaders have claimed that the city is now the eternal and undivided capital of Israel.

Yet that position has not been the same as the international community. I’d like to quote reference to an official government website, still readily accessible at this moment.

*scrolls to https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/ ... -jerusalem on a phone.*

I hope I will be allowed to quote an official government website into the record.
The position of the UK government has remained constant since April 1950, when the UK extended de jure recognition to the State of Israel, but withheld recognition of sovereignty over Jerusalem pending a final determination of its status. We recognise Israel’s de facto authority over West Jerusalem. In line with Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) and subsequent Council resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as under Israeli occupation.
And in this statement, this Government agrees with that, saying the entire city is the capital of Israel. Not only are we now saying we recognise a de jure authority over West Jerusalem, but we’re saying that we recognise a similar authority over all of Jerusalem.

That represents a significant change of position for the Government. It represents a rejection of a long-standing British and international community opinion. It represents a u-turn on the stated position of British Governments for over half a century represented by statements, by votes in this House, by statements and votes at the United Nations, by positions in negotiations aimed at producing a lasting and permanent peace.

This u-turn is not merely on a position from nearly seventy years ago; it’s a u-turn on a Government position expressed in December of 2017, by the Right Honourable Member for Maidenhead. When the United States chose to move their embassy to Jerusalem, she stated:
We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.

Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. In line with relevant Security Council Resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
I believe the Prime Minister ought to remember this statement and the position it clearly outlined as he was a Minister of State for Security at the time this announcement was made. It states the long-standing position, and it highlights the concern the Opposition has with this statement- this bit of so-called “diplomatic minutiae”- that this move is potentially unhelpful for the cause of peace, that this move disrupts negotiations between Israel and Palestine on issues including the status of Jerusalem.

Indeed, on that same site I cited earlier, the address for the consulate in Jerusalem- the consulate that through “diplomatic minutiae” is to become our Embassy- is listed as East Jerusalem, the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is listed because Palestine claims East Jerusalem as its capital, and because the UK has long stated- though its expressed position, through votes in the UN Security Council- that the status of Jerusalem should be determined by the parties involved and through a peace agreement.

And the status of Jerusalem is certainly not “diplomatic minutiae.” This announcement seeks to settle it by tossing out years of attempts to settle the question in an equitable, peaceful way. It seeks to settle it by saying that we accept a move that for decades the UK has considered illegal.

This Government is tacitly supporting the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel by placing our Embassy to the State of Israel in East Jerusalem. And this Government is explicitly supporting that same claim by saying that all of Jerusalem, as Israel claims, is its capital.

This Government also says in this statement that both Israel and Palestine should work towards peace. In this we agree, but we have serious concerns that by pre-determining the UK’s position on Jerusalem before that question is decided, that the ability to achieve peace will be threatened.

Rather than focus on “diplomatic minutiae,” I hope that the Foreign Secretary will explain how this change in our long-held position on the status of Jerusalem will aid peace in the Middle East. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will explain to us here who was considered in making this announcement. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will lay out the path for peace given this decision. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will talk about how the United Kingdom can be seen as an honest broker for peace in the Middle East when we have reversed and thrown out decades of a consistent, clear position that Jerusalem and its status must be decided through negotiations.

Because from where I am standing, from where the Opposition is viewing this statement, I am forced to agree with the Right Honourable Member for Maidenhead. She was right in saying a move such as this one is unhelpful for the prospects of peace, and we agree with that. She was right in suggesting that recognising Israeli control over all of Jerusalem would go against decades of international stances aimed at bringing parties to the table. And all of those legitimate concerns from someone whom the current Prime Minister served as a Minister of State are seemingly wiped away with a short speech and a couple of tweets by this Government.

Those are far bigger, far more complex issues than “diplomatic minutiae,” and unfortunately for the Foreign Secretary, they absolutely must be addressed by this statement.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by Brown »

Mr. Speaker,

I’d like to begin by thanking the Hon. Lady for her strong condemnation of violence and disorder. I am grateful that she, and many in the Labour party leadership, are taking a stronger line on this--though it remains distressing to see that many now former Labour members laid the kindling for the instigation of this event. It is an important step forward, however, to see the Labour party beginning to hold certain members to account for their actions, and I hope this will send a clear message to everyone in this house that such actions will not be tolerated.

Mr. Speaker, I find myself in full alignment in the Hon. Lady in agreeing that a lasting peaceful solution to the ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine must be the ultimate goal of all nations. This peace, which I’m sure the whole house will hope and pray will one day be fully achieved, will provide security for the citizens of Israel, Palestinians, and indeed, the wider Middle East and the world.

The Hon. Lady emphasizes in her speech that Jerusalem has not always been the official capital of Israel. I’m afraid her recitation of history, however, is a bit off. She asserts that following the 1967 war, “Israeli leaders have claimed that the city is now the eternal and undivided capital of Israel.” I’m afraid the Hon. Lady is mistaken. On December 5th, 1949, Israel’s First Prime Minister, Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel's "eternal" and "sacred" capital, and eight days later specified that only the war had "compelled" the Israeli leadership "to establish the seat of Government in Tel Aviv", while "for the State of Israel there has always been and always will be one capital only – Jerusalem the Eternal", and that after the war, efforts had been ongoing for creating the conditions for "the Knesset... returning to Jerusalem." A year after this statement, all branches of the Israeli Government--legislative, executive, and judicial, have resided in Jerusalem.

Mr. Speaker, it is not the place of Her Majesty’s Government to decide where the capital of Israel is. Indeed, this is a decision that should be made by the Sovereign State of Israel--and they have made it--and not even recently. I recognize the Hon. Lady’s point that previous Governments have not addressed this discrepancy as they should have--but this Government is here now, and this Government will not dictate to another country where its capital should be. That is simply, Mr. Speaker, an entirely inappropriate role for the United Kingdom. We recognize that our friend and ally Israel has established Jerusalem as its capital. We recognize that our diplomatic engagement in Israel will be more effective with our embassy placed in the proclaimed capital of the country where the centers of its executive, legislative, and judicial branches are. We will be able to accomplish far more in our quest for greater engagement with Israel and a greater movement towards a peaceful settlement to the question of peace between Israel and Palestianians by having our primary diplomatic staff in the center of things, rather than an hour away in Tel Aviv.

Further, I must push back against the Hon. Lady’s assertion that this simple recognition of a Sovereign State’s decision on its capital’s location somehow undermines peace. I would say, in all frankness to the Hon. Lady and the benches opposite that the concern of provocateurs seeking to undermine a lasting and peaceful settlement to the conflict between Israel and Palestnians is concerning--and that the actions we have seen in London--and the participation of several members of this House at the beginning of these actions, is concerning and unhelpful.

Turning to the Hon. Lady’s questions, I again repeat--we are simply recognizing the decision of a Sovereign State on its capital, established not just de jure, but also de facto, by the placement of the central organs of the Israeli state. The former placement of our embassy more than an hour away from this heart of Israel has had a detrimental effect on the United Kingdom’s ability in Israel to stay at the heart of developments within Israel. It is my firm belief and hope that, being at the heart of developments in Israel, the Government will be able to play an even greater role in the Middle East Peace process.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by Ashton Edwards »

As the Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy):

Mr Speaker,

I should thank the Right Honourable Member for his reply, at least I would were the statement actually a reply to some of the valid concerns raised not only by the Labour Party, which seems to now be at fault for the lack of progress in peace talks, and previous Conservative leaders as well.

If I may sum up the Right Honourable Gentleman’s position, it is that peace is helped by recognising the capital of Israel as Jerusalem… and that moving our Embassy closer to Jerusalem will help peace so that no one needs to sit in traffic.

This is a poor justification for disposing of decades of international near-consensus on issues that are very close to one of the major causes of a lack of peace in the region: the status of Jerusalem, who may have access to it, and who may consider it their capital. It is a poor argument for saying that peace is now within reach: if only, according to the Right Honourable Gentleman, every country maintained their Embassies in Jerusalem then perhaps peace would be at most a week away.

If my summation seems to be lacking nuance, it is only because the Government’s new position lacks any sort of nuance and thoughtful insight that is needed in order to actually move forward efforts to come to a lasting and permanent peace that Israel and Palestine rightfully need and deserve.

Let me reiterate that Labour wholly believes that Israel has a right to exist. Labour believes there should be a lasting and just peace between Israel and Palestine. And Labour believes, as did the Conservatives through every leader including the Right Honourable Member for Maidenhead, whom the current Prime Minister served as a Minister of State, that the status of Jerusalem is not for the United Kingdom to prejudge but rather to be settled by the parties to current conflict in the Middle East.

Many people have been killed over the question that the Right Honourable Gentleman still considers a matter of “diplomatic minutiae.” And until there is a lasting and meaningful peace, people will continue to pay the price. I, as does Labour, feel great sorrow for those whose lives are irrevocably changed or ended while peace still remains elusive.

The Right Honourable Gentleman has said that it is not the place of the United Kingdom to determine where Israel’s capital is. I don’t think that is inconsistent with what I have said, what others have said. Indeed, I am arguing that we do not make that determination... while the Right Honourable Member is in fact saying it.

The Right Honourable Gentleman has said that all of Jerusalem- including occupied East Jerusalem- is the capital of Israel. He has said this despite the very real conflict over this which remains outstanding. He has said this despite precious agreements that have been reached between Israeli and representatives of the Palestinian people that have clearly reserved future decision making on the status of the city.

This is particularly problematic as the British consulate in the city is in occupied East Jerusalem, while the organs of government that the Right Honourable Gentleman refers to are in West Jerusalem.

Does the Right Honourable Member state then that by making our consulate the legal Embassy to Israel, that we are recognizing Israel’s control over East Jerusalem and that it is not considered occupied Palestinian territory?

In his original statement, he said it did not. Now it appears he said we are. And it cannot be both. That is not “diplomatic minutiae.” It cannot be both if we want to see both parties come to the table in honest, open negotiation. Even representatives for Israel and Palestine have agreed to that much.

As I have said, this “diplomatic minutiae” being problematic for peace is not just Labour saying so. It has been said by other Prime Ministers- such as the Right Honourable Member for Maidenhead. It has been said by other countries such as when the United Nations Security Council, voting on Resolution 478 in 1980, that the Security Council- made up of representatives who certainly understand the complexities involved with a bit more nuance and detail than has been expressed here to date:
Affirms also that this action [the passage of the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel] constitutes a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;
And to this, the Right Honourable Member says no, that this is actually helpful for peace… with the only justification that he hopes it will be.

Mr Speaker, I hope for peace as well, and I pray for it. I pray that there is an end to the lives lost and hope there can be a fair, equitable, lasting agreement between Israel and Palestine. But my hoping this by itself will, unfortunately, not move the needle. Much more needs to be done than hope. So I hope that the Right Honourable Member will understand that hoping this is the right action- when so many experts, when so many actively involved in the peace process over decades, have said the exact opposite- is not sufficient justification for without a word and without consultation changing the stakes of the game.

This is the wrong move for peace. And I know the Right Honourable Member will say again that I am wrong while using arguments that fail to respond to legitimate points made and indeed to legitimate grievances in the peace process, about how there is so much emotion and faith and pain and suffering that surrounds the question of the status of Jerusalem.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by David Malkin »

Mr Speaker,

I feel it is only appropriate that I rise to speak on this motion. As the only MP of both British and Israeli citizenship this is an issue that is very dear to me.

May I first begin by echoing the words of my honourable friend, the Foreign Secretary, when he states that it is not our place to dictate our ally's internal policy and that as Israel states Jerusalem is their capital we should also recognise it as such.

Mr Speaker, the facts alone show that Jerusalem functions as Israel's capital city. The Knesset, the legislative body of Israel sits in Jerusalem; Bit HaNassi and Beit Again, the residences of Israel's President and Prime Minister, are in Jerusalem. The Supreme Court, the Bank of Israel, the National Headquarters of the Israel Police and the majority of Government department headquarters are located in Jerusalem.

We have no right to state that the situation of Israel's capital is anything other than that which is decreed by the State of Israel, a sovereign nation. I recognise the difficulty this issue causes with regards to the fragile peace process in the region, trust me I know better than most the situation in my homeland, but we cannot escape the fact that there are many more pressing issues affecting the situation. It is sad that some of the members opposite and those who are fighting against this decision, and in many cases against the State of Israel, are willing to engage in historical revisionism that has so often been used and perpetuated by anti-Semites in an attempt not to simply delegitimise Israel's control of Jerusalem but to delegitimise the State of Israel and the Jewish people themselves.

I will take no lectures on the peace process from a party who elected a man who called Hamas, an organisation which seeks to exterminate the Jewish people, as "friends".

But I believe firmly that this is a step in the right direction for this Government's foreign policy, it brings us one step closer to the end of the conflict between Israel and her neighbours and it shows that the United Kingdom stands with her allies against aggressors and will not bow to intimidation.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by Ashton Edwards »

As the Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy):

Mr Speaker,

I think the Member for Edinburgh Pentlands for his comments. Particularly, one deserves calling out and repeating, and I hope that the Government hears this comment clearly: "I recognise the difficulty this issue causes with regards to the fragile peace process in the region."

Mr Speaker, that has been the concern of Labour in this debate: that this move could very well jeopardize the situation. While the Member for Edinburgh Pentlands later does say that this move will bring us a step closer to peace- I would be remiss if I did not recognize the comment- I want to note the Government has yet to explain this position beyond offering the evidence that they hope this would work and by eliminating potential traffic between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that we can take a better role in the peace process.

Labour has not argued that Israel should move the organs of governance out of Jerusalem- particularly West Jerusalem, where they are located. And we recognise, as the UK has for some time, that Israel has de facto control of West Jerusalem. I don't think there has been any dispute over that in this current debate.

But we should recognise, as the Member for Edinburgh Pentlands has literally moments ago, that this move causes difficulty with respect to the peace process. That is not something that is mere "diplomatic minutiae," and the Government needs to explain the connection between this and peace.

I'll reiterate that Labour wholly believes Israel has a right to exist and the Israeli people have the right to leave in peace and security. How this move does that is unexplained by its supporters... and even one of its supporters has opened to door to the possibility, as Labour and Conservative leaders in this country and as leaders and experts around the globe have said, that this will do more harm than good.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by Ashton Edwards »

((OOC: Go ahead and call me out. It should be the Member for Windsor, but I was looking at the old signature.))
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by David Malkin »

Mr Speaker,

I must object to the analysis made by the honourable member for Wigan on my comments. I stated that I believed this would cause difficulties in the peace process, however I also made it abundantly clear that I believed wholeheartedly that this course of action to be the right course of action.

But for the sake of clarity to the house, the difficulties from this decision arise not simply from our recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, or even for the implications that it brings. No, the issues caused are by those who seek to challenge and oppose this decision and by those who refuse to recognise the right of the State of Israel to have Jerusalem as its capital city.

Whilst I cannot speak on behalf of the Government on this issue, I wholeheartedly believe from personal experience that one of the greatest barriers towards a lasting peace between Israel and her neighbours is the overall status of Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a contentious issue depending on one's race, religion or even political ideology, but it is an issue that requires a permanent resolution in order to facilitate a lasting peace. If we do not resolve this issue it will only continue to fuel tensions in the region.

Israel has every right to claim Jerusalem as its capital, and the sooner people accept this the closer we will get to peace.

I commend the Government for bringing this issue into focus and for making a tough decision but one which I believe in time will prove to be the right decision. It demonstrates the Government's commitment to fulfilling its obligations as a major nation and towards making the international community a safer place for all.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by Ashton Edwards »

As the Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy):

Mr Speaker,

I would like to point out for the Member for Windsor that the Government has said, in this debate, that this order does is not intended to made a determination on the status of Jerusalem:
This order does not constitute an official position from the British Government about where a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state should lie. The Government is not taking a position on any final status issues, or the resolution of currently contested borders within Jerusalem or across the state of Israel.
I have argued that in fact this statement and this decision does take a stance on the final status in Jerusalem and that is why it is problematic with respect to the peace process that the UK has supported for decades. Now, is the Member for Windsor saying that I am correct in that this does in fact represent a change of the UK's position and that it recognises both de jure as well as de facto that both East and West Jerusalem, as a single entity, is the rightful capital of Israel and only Israel?

That's what it sounds like to me, but I invite clarification from the Member for Windsor if he will help provide it.
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Re: MS-08: Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Post by David Malkin »

Mr Speaker,

Since the member for Wigan has the text of the statement in front of her I'm sure she needn't ask me what the order does, as I'm sure she's perfectly aware.

In addition the Foreign Secretary has already stated:
we are simply recognizing the decision of a Sovereign State on its capital, established not just de jure, but also de facto
When I talk about the "status of Jerusalem", I think the member for Wigan should use her brain to realise that from context I am clearly referring to the contention from Israel's enemies around the idea of Jerusalem being the capital city of the sovereign state. I am not referring to any border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

I will not engage in word games with the member for Wigan, but I will tell her this. After some of the comments from the member for Wigan's fellow party members she should take a look at the company she is in and realise which side of this debate is the right one to be on. History remembers those who were on the wrong side, and in the case of my people, there have been many wrong sides who have persecuted us, do not be one of them.

This is a perfectly straightforward decision by this Government and I am proud to see it being made.
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