Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has voiced “concern” over Donald Trump’s expected announcement that he will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
US officials have said the president will declare on Wednesday that he is to start the process of moving the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, reversing decades of American policy.
The move has sparked consternation around the world, amid fears that it could provoke violent protests by Palestinians who may view it as America dropping its long-standing position of neutrality in the Middle East peace process to side with Israel.
Speaking to reporters as he arrived for a Nato summit in Brussels, Mr Johnson made clear that the UK has no intention of following Mr Trump’s lead by moving its own embassy from Tel Aviv.
“Let’s wait and see what the president says exactly, but we view the reports that we have heard with concern, because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a negotiated settlement that we want to see,” said Mr Johnson.
“We have no plans ourselves to move our embassy.”
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry responded by saying: “Even by Donald Trump’s abysmally low standards, to choose this point to move the US embassy and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a breathtakingly dangerous decision, which will not just set back the hopes of finding a political settlement between Israel and Palestine, but threatens to trigger even greater instability and radicalisation throughout the Middle East.
With one un-thinking sweep of his pen, he has abandoned America’s role as a peace-broker between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, and done serious damage to his country’s relationship with other regional powers.“
Reports of Mr Trump’s plan sparked security warnings on Tuesday, with US personnel and their families ordered to avoid visiting Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank.
The US has never previously endorsed the Jewish state’s claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, insisting its status must be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.
Officials said that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be an acknowledgement of “historical and current reality”, rather than an intervention in the politics of the peace process.
But there were expressions of concern from capitals around the world.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he reminded Mr Trump in a phone call on Monday that the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations on a two-state solution for the Middle East.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said actions undermining peace efforts “must be absolutely avoided”.
And Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the head of the Arab League, urged the US to reconsider any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning of “repercussions”.