Dear Prime Minister,
As you fly off to Washington for your first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, we wanted to highlight a number of issues that should be part of your agenda.
Last week, speaking to Andrew Marr, you reinforced the importance of the special relationship between the US and the UK, indicating that this relationship enabled you to raise difficult matters. You would not be afraid, you said, to tell President Trump if he says or does anything you find unacceptable. Although the list of Trump’s unacceptable behaviours is rather lengthy, there is one particularly pressing and grave issue that we are asking you to raise with him.
During his electoral campaign, and since his inauguration, President Trump has spoken of his desire to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has stated his belief that such a move would advance the cause of peace. This view has no adherents outside of Israel , except amongst right-wing elements in the United States . Such a move flagrantly disregards international law, Palestinian rights and international opinion, and can only lead to inflamed tensions across the Middle East.
We hope you can remind President Trump of the facts on the ground and the reasons for the long-standing placement of diplomatic missions and embassies in Tel Aviv. An international consensus on the matter has been clear, and was undertaken to avoid legitimising the illegal annexation of all of Jerusalem by the Israeli government in 1980. When Israel passed the Jerusalem Law in 1980 the Security Council (UNSC) responded by passing resolution 478 condemning Israel’s attempts to effectively annex East Jerusalem populated by 300,000 Palestinians, and called upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions or embassies in Jerusalem. The resolution, one of seven similar passed by the UNSC, further described Israel’s actions as constituting a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
The UN resolution affirmed an international consensus which has continued until today: that no party should take unilateral actions which disrupt peace and inflame tensions and that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to secure a lasting peace. This consensus also acknowledges the impossibility of creating a Palestinian state that does not have Jerusalem as its capital given the importance of Jerusalem to the Palestinian people culturally, spiritually, politically and economically.
The President’s stated intention to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem also of course flies in the face of UNSC resolution 2334 passed in December 2016 and supported by your government. This latest resolution reaffirmed resolution 478 and called upon all parties to avoid any provocative acts.
President Trump’s proposed move of the U.S. Embassy is but one of numerous actions which are likely to setback any possibility of a just peace in the region. David Friedman, The President’s nominated Ambassador to Israel, has donated money to illegal Israeli settlements and publicly opposed the idea of a Palestinian state. The President has also signalled an important Middle East Advisory role for his son in law Jared Kushner. Mr Kushner is the Director of his family’s charitable foundation that channels funds to the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory. This has been interpreted by members of the Israeli government as giving a green light to continue the relentless colonisation of Palestinian land, effectively enforcing a claim to sovereignty over all of historic Palestine. In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s Election, Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor stated “The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” he said. “We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.” Two days after Trump’s inauguration Israel announced plans for nearly 600 new settlement units to be built in East Jerusalem, in direct defiance of UNSC resolution 2334. This week on the Radio 4 Today Programme Tzipi Hotevely , Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, challenged to defend these actions, stated that there was no occupation, saying: “This is Jewish land forever”. This is the vision of Israel which Trump appears to support- an ever expanding Israel with no prospect of self-determination or equal rights for the Palestinian people.
We are writing in the hope that the UK will take a lead in providing a robust response to these latest Israeli moves, and will reaffirm the need for Israel to cease its grave violations of international law. We believe you were serious when you committed the UK to signing UNSC resolution 2334. Given that Israel has signalled its utter disregard for this resolution, the question now is how the UK government and other members of the Security Council should act to ensure that it is brought into force. The idea that Israel can be persuaded to abide by international law by gentle persuasion has failed the test of the 25 years since the start of the peace process, during which time it has expanded the illegal settlement population on the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 115,00 to over 650,000. We believe the time has long since past for the UK government to stop talking about settlements as illegal and start treating them as such. We call on the government to announce that the UK will no longer provide financial support for Israel’s programme of settlement expansion. This should be accompanied by a review of all UK financial relationships with Israeli settlements and a ban on the importation of settlement produce to the UK.
We wish you a safe journey to the White House and will follow closely the action of the UK government to bring about justice and peace for the people of Palestine
Hugh Lanning – Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Ben Jamal – Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Kate Hudson – General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Lindsey German – Convenor, Stop The War Coalition
Attalah Said – Chair, British Palestinian Policy Council
Zaher Badawi – Chair, Europal Forum
Dr Hafiz Karmi – Chair, Palestine Forum in Britain
Shamiul Joarder – Head of Public Affairs, Friends of Al-Aqsa
Mohammed Kozbar – Vice President, Muslim Association of Britain