Mr. Speaker,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.
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.