On September 21, 2022, the British Prime Minister traveled to the UN and shared with her Israeli counterpart her intention to move the British embassy to the Holy City.
This decision, if in fact it is verified, is of highly symbolic value, and which did not fail to trigger the ire of the Palestinians, denouncing it as a “flagrant violation of international law.” This decision also made several high prelates of the Catholic Church react.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, decided to write to the new British Prime Minister, urging her to reconsider her decision: “such a transfer of the British embassy would be seriously damaging to any possibility of lasting peace in the region and to the international reputation of the United Kingdom,” warned the president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
For the high English prelate, there is “no valid reason” to consider moving the British embassy: “I earnestly ask the Prime Minister to reconsider the intention she has expressed and to focus all efforts on seeking a two-state solution, in which Jerusalem would have a guaranteed special status,” the cardinal wrote.
It is the same story in the Holy City. Last October 10, Msgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, signed a joint declaration with the leaders of the other Christian confessions present in the City of David.
The Patriarch recalls that “the religious Status Quo in Jerusalem is essential for preserving the harmony of our Holy City,” a Status Quo implicitly applied by “most of the world’s governments who have refrained from locating their embassies in Jerusalem until a final status agreement on the Holy City has been reached.”
Liz Truss's decision is, according to Archbishop Pizzaballa, “counterproductive,” because it suggests that “the continuing military occupation of certain Palestinian territories and the unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem would be acceptable,” the patriarch emphasized.
“It is only at the time of such an initiative, we believe, that a just and lasting peace can be established in Jerusalem and throughout the Middle East,” he concludes.
If the wish of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom were to come true, it would be the most significant upheaval in British foreign policy in more than a century, with consequences that are difficult to imagine.