Top UK Catholic Archbishop Urges UK Prime Minister Not to Move Israel Embassy to Jerusalem
A senior Catholic cleric has called on British Prime Minister Liz Truss not to move the UK Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, insisting that such an action “would be seriously damaging to any possibility of lasting peace in the region and to the international reputation of the United Kingdom.”
In a letter to Truss on Thursday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols — who serves as the Archbishop of Westminster and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales — cited The Vatican’s opposition to recognizing Jerusalem as the unified capital of the State of Israel.
“Pope Francis and the leaders of churches in the Holy Land have long called for the international status quo on Jerusalem to be upheld, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions,” Nichols tweeted. “The city must be shared as a common patrimony, never becoming an exclusive monopoly of any party.”
Truss has hinted that the UK would move its embassy to Jerusalem on several occasions, most recently at last week’s conference of the ruling Conservative Party — Truss’s first as prime minister.
At a Conservative Friends of Israel reception last Sunday, Truss described herself as a “huge Zionist and huge supporter of Israel” and affirmed that she would “take the UK-Israel relationship from strength to strength.” The party’s chairman, Jake Berry, pledged to support the Jewish state “in its fight to ensure that it remains safe and that the capital in Jerusalem is the home to our new Embassy.”
Nichols emphasized that he could “see no valid reason why a move needs now to be considered. I ask the Prime Minister earnestly 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.”
Nichols has strongly criticized Israel on past occasions. Following a visit to Gaza in 2015, he gave an extensive interview to Middle East Monitor, a website sympathetic to Hamas, in which he asserted that there were “aspects to Israeli policy and behavior that do immense damage in the eyes of the international community.”
In the same interview, Nichols described Hamas-ruled Gaza as a “pluralist” society, which should not be mistaken for “a Muslim enclave surrounded by the state of Israel.” He also argued that “the State of Israel is not the land of the Jews; it’s the land of Christians and all sorts of people as well. And it has to be like that.”