Deceit from Israel’s enemies
So far, we’ve considered examples of double standards as well as political weakness and compromise as reasons for Britain’s bad handling of Jerusalem. A third tendency in Britain’s foreign policy is the readiness to accept the narrative of Israel’s enemies and allow it to influence policy.
When the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority claimed it was a breach of international law. Similar accusations were thrown at the UK government when it raised a potential move. But the ‘international law’ argument is completely flawed.
The Palestinians are alluding to UN Resolution 478, adopted in 1980 by the UN Security Council. It was one of several anti-Israel resolutions at the time when America’s President Carter was particularly hostile to Israel. The resolution addressed concern over the Israeli parliament’s passing of the ‘Basic Law’, which was a declaration stating that Jerusalem was the ‘complete and united’ capital of Israel. This document wasn’t introducing a new idea at all – it was simply recognising what was already fact. Jerusalem had been the State of Israel’s capital since its independence, and it was ‘complete and united’ since Israel had legally retaken the east part of Jerusalem in 1967 after Jordan had illegally annexed and occupied it since the Arab invasion of 1948.
UN Resolution 478 not only stated that it didn’t recognise changes to Jerusalem under the ‘Basic Law’, despite there not being any changes to effect, but also stated:
Those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City.
The reason the Palestinians say locating an embassy in Jerusalem is a violation of international law, but never cite the resolution, is (1) Because diplomatic missions could mean not only embassies. It would apply to dozens of consulates and other missions in Jerusalem. (2) It doesn’t say to whom the missions are intended, meaning the UK would have to close its consulate to the Palestinians. (3) The resolution was listed under ‘Chapter 6’ which means the resolution was a recommendation only. Had it been under ‘Chapter 7’ it would have been binding.
So, when the term ‘international law’ is weaponised as an argument against Britain moving its embassy, remember, it is a non-binding resolution, also it potentially impacts the Palestinians, and was only created as an anti-Israel protest against what was a legal and pre-existing status regarding Jerusalem.
The other mention of ‘international law’ pertaining to the embassy’s location is regarding east Jerusalem. As already stated, Israel legally regained control over east Jerusalem when the illegal occupation of Jordan ended. Using east Jerusalem as an argument is irrelevant, not least because embassies have only been placed in west Jerusalem, which has never been under Jordanian control anyway. When the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinians filed a petition at the International Court of Justice at the Hague claiming the embassy move was a violation of international law. The Palestinians claimed that it is illegal to place an embassy outside the sovereign area of a state – which itself is an incorrect statement – and thus claimed that the entirety of Jerusalem is outside Israel’s sovereignty and illegally occupied by Israel and therefore breaching international law.
The legal case against the US didn’t get past first base. But the same outlandish tactics have been used again by the anti-Israel movement opposing Britain doing similarly. It is very important that MPs understand the lies perpetrated by Israel’s opponents and avoid making the mistake of forming foreign policy upon these baseless claims.
Where from here?
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said, “The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world…it’s more than that, it’s the history of earth and heaven.”
One day, the nations will be judged by how they treated Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Oh, Great Britain, wake up to this revelation! Despite being true for over 3,000 years, the UN still denies Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The UK, and the godly heritage that we have been blessed with, positions us to have a different kind of relationship with Jerusalem and take a different route than that of the heathen, antisemitic chambers that are an offence to God.
Meanwhile, let each of us consider how we regard Jerusalem. The Bible says in Psalm 137:5-6, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—If I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.”
Let us not forget that God has given Jerusalem to the Jewish people. Jerusalem is also important to Christians, but not in a way that replaces God’s inheritance to the Jewish people. That is the danger of replacement theology, which is so embedded in the church and leads some to deny the Jewish people’s right over the entirety of Jerusalem. Instead, by understanding what the Bible says, our Christian faith is what underpins why we see Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
Let us not forget that Jerusalem is the place that God calls home. The Psalmist penned, “But [the Lord] chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.” Jerusalem is the place where the Lord is going to set up his throne and rule the world for a thousand years. How as a Christian can I forget you, O Jerusalem?
Let us not forget to pray for Jerusalem. In Psalm 122:6, David pens, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” That’s a command, not a recommendation. It is followed by, “They shall prosper who love you.” In accordance with His Word, may the Lord bless your family, your church and your nation as you pray for the peace of Jerusalem as promised in Psalm 128:5:
“The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life.”