Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is very disappointed by the statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has attempted to discourage the UK Government from moving the British embassy to Jerusalem.
Whilst we are sure that the Archbishop is sincere in his concern, it is a travesty that the Church of England has taken a politicised position that undermines Biblical truth and the historical fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
The statement by a spokesperson for Archbishop Welby reads, “The Archbishop is concerned about the potential impact of moving the British Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before a negotiated settlement between Palestinians and Israelis has been reached. He is in touch with Christian leaders in the Holy Land and continues to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Archbishop Welby’s intervention came the day after the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, expressed “profound concerns” about the review.
The Archbishop says he has been in touch with Christian leaders in the Holy Land. But we would urge the Archbishop to be in touch with Jewish leaders in the Holy Land and hear a different perspective. It is also deeply concerning that the Church of England’s position is in conflict with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which is in favour of the move.
The Archbishop’s position does not reflect the view of millions of Christian supporters of Israel who live across the United Kingdom. CUFI has written to the Government to ensure that the views of our supporters are heard by Number 10, to counter the Church of England’s negative intervention. A CUFI petition has over 50,000 signatures of people who believe that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is the right thing to do.
It is the right of every Sovereign nation to determine the location of its capital. Israel has chosen Jerusalem. This is backed up by both historical fact and international law. The UK is currently causing an offence by failing to recognise this, and the Church is complicit. Israel has said that the UK opening a Jerusalem embassy would be a sign of the strengthening UK-Israel relationship, which some have described as being in a golden era. It would be shameful if the Church of England stands in the way of Britain honouring Israel, bringing this relationship to a level we have not seen before.
As the Church should know, God has chosen Jerusalem. The Bible is the authority by which the Church of England should be framing its positions. The Bible is clear that Jerusalem is the Jewish people’s capital city. Therefore, it is our responsibility as Christians to support this right without fear or compromise.
The Archbishop’s concern over regional sensitives is not a reason for objection. There is already a British consulate in Jerusalem, but only for Palestinians not Israelis. This is a discriminatory policy that can be resolved by a UK embassy to Israel within Jerusalem. The United States has proven that an embassy move is possible without any major disruption. There is no need to wait for a peace agreement before an embassy move and Israel will never accept an offer of peace that denies Jerusalem as its capital.
If the decision is made by the Government not to move the embassy, the Church of England will be accountable to God and answerable to the Jewish community for the Church’s appalling role in influencing the decision. We’re hoping this can be avoided.
Like the Archbishop, we too pray for the peace of Jerusalem, believing that peace will one day come to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, we pray that the Church will have boldness and courage to follow what the Bible teaches by honouring Jerusalem. As we bless Israel, then we will witness blessing upon the United Kingdom and the Church.
~ Des Starritt, Executive Director of CUFI UK
“If I forget you, O Jerusalem,Let my right hand forget its skill!”Psalm 137:5-6
We call upon the UK Government to officially recognise Jerusalem is Israel's capital and move its embassy to Jerusalem.