Britain has no plans to move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and still disagrees with the U.S. decision to do so, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Monday.
“The PM said in December when the announcement was first made that we disagree with the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement.
“The British embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it,” the spokesman said.
He was speaking on a day when the U.S. was due to open its embassy in Jerusalem, an event that has led to Palestinian protests.
Israeli gunfire killed two Palestinians and wounded at least 35 other protesters along the Gaza border on Monday, health officials said.
Also, the U.S. opens its embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians.
The opening ceremony is at a U.S. consular building in the Arnona neighborhood. It will house an interim embassy for the ambassador and a small staff until a larger site is found.
The compound cuts across the 1949 Armistice Line that separated West Jerusalem from No Man’s Land, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and has held under occupation ever since.
The embassy move follows U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last December to break with decades of U.S. policy and recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the decision, saying it reflected that “the Jewish people have had a capital for 3,000 years, and that it is called Jerusalem.”
But the move upset the Arab world and Western allies. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it a “slap in the face” and said the U.S. can no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.
Trump said his administration has a peace proposal in the works and that by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of America’s closest ally he had “taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.”
There has long been pressure from pro-Israel politicians in Washington to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and Trump made it a promise of his 2016 election campaign.
Trump acted under a 1995 law that requires the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem. But Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama consistently signed waivers.
Announcing his decision on Dec. 6, Trump cited the Jerusalem Embassy Act and suggested his predecessors had “lacked courage.”
He said: “They failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”