In just less than a month after she became Britain’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Liz Truss declared her unwavering support for Israel.
At a Conservative Friends of Israel event in Birmingham, Truss, in the boldest terms, proclaimed herself as “a huge Zionist and huge supporter of Israel” and pledged that she would “take the UK-Israel relationship from strength to strength”, causing outrage online and in the media.
It is, after all, a dangerous allegiance very rarely expressed, so bluntly.
The status of Jerusalem remains one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet, as one of her first foreign policy moves as Prime Minister, she is suggesting she might move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel.
Pro-Israel groups in the UK are already lobbying for the embassy move and the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews is endorsing it.
This is despite Palestinian leaders warning that moving the embassy would undermine the two-state solution and destroy their relations with Britain. Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, said it was “extremely unfortunate” that Truss used her first appearance at the UN as Prime Minister to “commit to potentially breaking international law”.
She told the packed Conservative Friends of Israel event: “Nothing can be more significant to show the friendship between Israel and the UK than this step.”
“There is just one capital in the UK, and that is London. There is just one capital to Israel, Jerusalem,” she continued. “For the last two thousand years, it’s been Jerusalem, always our spiritual home. We can’t ignore the historic truth.”
In the same breath, she reiterated her government’s rejection of Russia’s “illegal” annexation of Ukrainian territory. She insisted that it can never be right to change borders by force.
Meanwhile, the UK has yet to apologize for its legacy of supporting colonialism in Palestine which started with the Balfour Declaration.
When former US President, Donald Trump, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, and the following year, relocated America’s embassy there, it provoked widespread international condemnation.
The Trump administration also expanded its diplomatic capital encouraging other States to move to Jerusalem. Other than the US, only three States have embassies to Israel in Jerusalem — Kosovo, Honduras, and Guatemala — which all moved from Tel Aviv after the US relocation.
Theresa May, the British Prime Minister at the time, quite fervently and rightfully, criticized the moves, stating that “we believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region” and that the “British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it”.
Following the move, the Palestinians cut ties with Washington, calling the Trump administration biased toward Israel.
Tension and violence surged at the time and, on the day, deadly protests in the Gaza Strip took place, as tens of thousands made their way to the border to protest the deeply controversial opening.
Sixty-one Palestinians were killed and over 2,400 Palestinians were wounded as Israeli snipers fired into the crowds in an attempt to suppress the demonstrations.
Liz Truss risks repeating the brutality and bloodshed, but worse. Starting last week, Israeli soldiers and settlers armed with rifles, rocks, and pipes have been attacking Palestinian residents, homes, schoolchildren, and stores across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Moreover, Israeli Occupation forces have kept 150,000 Palestinians in the Shuafat refugee camp and the nearby town of Anata, north-east of Jerusalem, under forced lockdown after closing all military checkpoints around them for over five days, with some unable to leave to receive critical health treatments, with many basic supplies running low.
This is in addition to the nightly raids imposed by the Israeli army, which they claim are essential for intelligence purposes. Israeli soldiers appear at the doorsteps of families while in deep sleep, between 10 pm and 5 am, barging in to search, arrest or detain a relative, despite rights groups slamming the practice which insist that the goal is to oppress and intimidate the Palestinian population and increase State control.
They are a way to hammer home the idea that even their safest spaces are not off-limits for Israeli soldiers, according to human rights organizations.
As a result, this year is said to be the deadliest in the West Bank since 2015. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed and another 1,500 people have been arrested.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem will only encourage the Israeli regime to commit more such crimes and will legitimize apartheid and the decades-long Occupation and illegal annexation of Palestinian territories.
With Liz Truss emboldening her Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, Israel is emboldened to disregard the Palestinian’s rights to freedom, self-determination, and equality, even more than it has done for the past 55 years, despite it violating international law.