US President Donald Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will not help bring about peace in the Middle East, a Cabinet minister has said.
Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke expressed concern at the highly controversial decision which has provoked criticism worldwide.
Mr Gauke told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions: “The question was ‘will it help peace?’, and I think the answer to that, I’m afraid, is no.
“I think that, as the UK has done, our embassy is in Tel Aviv, I think it should stay there, unless and until, there can be a wider agreement whereby we can have a more secure future with a viable Israel and a viable Palestinian state.”
The comments followed Prime Minister Theresa May’s branding of Mr Trump’s action as “unhelpful” for the peace process in the region.
Mr Gauke’s remarks came as scores of MPs and peers wrote to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to express concern at the US move.
The cross-party group of 90 parliamentarians has called for UK leadership in achieving a two state solution to the Middle East conflict.
Labour MP Richard Burden, chairman of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, who organised the letter in response to Mr Trump’s announcement, said: “Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, and there has long been consensus amongst the international community that the city’s status can only be settled fairly through negotiations.
“President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem is provocative, it undermines the ability of the US to credibly broker talks between Israel and Palestine and it will only fan the flames of conflict at a time when international efforts should be focused on reducing tension, upholding the rule of law and promoting peace.
“We are calling for the UK to show leadership in the pursuit and facilitation of a just and sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine with Jerusalem as a shared capital of both states.
“The UK must demonstrate in deeds as well as words that respect for international law and a commitment to equal rights for both Palestinians and Israelis must be cornerstones of a new UK pro-activity and leadership to achieve peace.
“We believe it is in the best interests of pursuing peace, for the UK to now recognise the State of Palestine.”
A joint statement by permanent representatives to the UN from the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden said: “We disagree with the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is not in line with Security Council resolutions and is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.
“In line with international law and relevant Security Council resolutions … we consider East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”