A legal group that supports Palestinian rights has written to Liz Truss saying it plans to launch a judicial review in a bid to block any move by the British government from the British Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The International Center for Justice for the Palestinians (ICJP) has commissioned a legal opinion in support of its argument that such a move would be contrary to the government’s international obligations.
The Prime Minister announced that she was considering moving the embassy following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September. The announcement drew criticism from Arab diplomats in the UK and former Conservative Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The ICJP’s opinion says there are strong grounds to conclude that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would constitute a breach of the UK’s obligations under international law, as it would involve recognition of the legislative measures, administrative and other unilateral measures adopted by Israel with regard to Jerusalem.
These measures, which include Israel’s enactment of the 1980 Basic Law declaring Jerusalem to be the “complete and united” capital of Israel, have been repeatedly declared invalid by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. UN.
The opinion states that the UN Security Council has affirmed that the enactment of the Basic Law 1980 constitutes a breach of international law and that there are strong grounds to conclude that this decision would breach the UK’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which require the UK to do everything in its power to ensure compliance with these conventions by other states and non-state parties to a conflict.
Crispin Blunt, Conservative MP and Director of the ICJP, said: “This opinion from an independent legal adviser, an expert in his field, reinforces the massive concentration of diplomatic, religious and political concern surrounding the consideration of the transfer of the UK Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The fact that the UK is apparently seriously considering this is already causing serious damage to its reputation, not least to our inherited responsibilities to at least be in balance with the Palestinian aspirations that have been so betrayed in the grim reality that has followed in the over the century since the Balfour affair.
“This review must be concluded now with the approval of the status quo.”
On Tuesday, Australia’s new foreign minister, Penny Wong, confirmed that the country considers Jerusalem a final status issue and is reversing the previous government’s decision in 2018 to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a move that prompted the Israeli government to call the Australian ambassador to demand an explanation.
Australia said it remained committed to a two-party solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and “we will not support an approach that undermines that prospect”, Wong said.
Political director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Aliza Bin-Noun, said the decision “only encourages extremists in the Palestinian Authority to continue to agitate the region, endangers stability and goes to the against the spirit of the recent period in which significant progress has been made in relations between Israel and the countries of the Middle East”.
The episode highlights the risks Truss, a staunch supporter of Israel, took in raising the issue in Britain.
Approaches to the British Foreign Office have also been made by the French government.
Some Middle Eastern politicians have also warned that plans for a British trade deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council would be jeopardized if Truss goes ahead.
Many Arab ambassadors in London believe the fragility of Truss’s leadership is such that it will step down knowing it cannot court further economic damage to the country.
Tayab Ali, partner at Bindmans law firm and director of the ICJP, said: “The Prime Minister has demonstrated over the past few weeks the dangers of carelessly announcing and implementing policies that are not thought through. and without proper consultation. The consequences for the British economy are serious. The Prime Minister must not approach international situations in the same way.
“We cannot, as a country, defend the Ukrainian struggle for freedom against forced annexation and forced territorial acquisition, and then create a policy for Israel that so seriously undermines the British assertion of the rule of international law. and the United Nations Charter. The consequences of negligence at this level would be unthinkable.
Asked to comment on the Australian decision on Tuesday, a State Department spokesman said the United States had no plans to reverse Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
However, the spokesman said the future of Jerusalem remains an issue in the final status talks, leaving the United States in the awkward position of placing its embassy in a city whose legal status he admits , has not been resolved.