Rishi Sunak has backtracked on Liz Truss’s promise to review the location of the British embassy to Israel, according to a statement by Downing Street.

According to reports, it would appear the UK’s recently appointed Prime Minister has capitulated to mounting pressure after being warned that “the entire governmental system” would oppose the plan.

In August, Sunak told a hustings hosted by the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) that Jerusalem was Israel’s “undisputed capital” and said there was a “very strong case” for relocating the UK embassy there.

Responding to a question from the New Arab news site a Downing Street spokesperson said on Wednesday, “There are no plans to move the UK embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv.”

Seeking clarification, the Jewish News sought a statement from Number 10 on Thursday: “It has been looked at,” confirmed Sunak’s spokesperson. “There are no plans to move the British embassy.”

The Jewish News reports that a “well-placed source” confirmed that Sunak reached the decision after being warned “the entire governmental system” would voice opposition to the plan.

“The PM was left in no doubt of the strength of opposition he would face if he continued to proceed to the embassy proposal,” added the source.

“He seemed to take on the board this message.”

Pro-Palestinian groups, a number of MPs and leaders of the Church of England and Catholic Church in England and Wales, have all spoken out against the move in recent weeks.

Middle East Monitor reports that “in an unprecedented move”, senior Muslim figures in Jerusalem wrote to King Charles expressing their “deep concern” about the consequences of moving the embassy from its current location.

One Kuwaiti MP, Osama al-Shaheen, also warned that such a move could scupper the free trade agreement between the UK and the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council – which includes Kuwait – due to be signed by the end of the year.

The announcement that Liz Truss’s commitment of a review had been reversed came on the 105th anniversary of the signing of the Balfour Declaration – the historic document signed lending British support to a national home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. The decision by Sunak, if true, would symbolise almost 75 years of weak foreign policy towards recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and represent the appalling capitulation towards pro-Arab pressure.

CUFI’s Des Starritt said, “We’re very disappointed to hear reports today that Number 10 has no plans for moving the British embassy to Jerusalem. We recognise that Liz Truss made the original promise and that Rishi Sunak was less committed to uphold her bold position. CUFI is hoping this is a temporary delay and that an embassy move will still be considered. If not, we would like the government to explain why it has come to this conclusion.”

“Has a thorough review of the embassies location taken place?” Starritt asks, “Has the Israeli government been consulted? If it is merely out of fear of an anti-Israel backlash then this isn’t good enough. Britain cannot continue to kick the can down the road ignoring Israeli sovereignty over its historic capital, Jerusalem.”

The UK government is demonstrating a double standard on two fronts. Firstly, it has placed embassies in other capital cities, but singles out the world’s only Jewish state as an exception. Secondly, Britain already has a consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, but not for Israelis.

In a sense, the UK has already recognised “west Jerusalem”. Whilst we don’t want to see Jerusalem divided, the UK could place an embassy there tomorrow without altering Britain’s position that supports a so-called “two-state solution”. But so far it has chosen not to act at all because of a weak, misguided foreign policy. Britain has also bought the lie that moving its embassy will have grave repercussions – something the US embassy move proved to be unfounded.

CUFI remains hopeful that Rishi Sunak can reverse this trend and do the right thing by moving the embassy.

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