Catholic Archbishop of Westminster calls on British PM not to move embassy to Jerusalem

Catholic Archbishop of Westminster calls on British PM not to move embassy to Jerusalem

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster who is the most senior Catholic leader in England, called on British Prime Minister Liz Truss not to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem as she recently promised she would.

“I have written to the Prime Minister to express profound concern over her call for a review of the location of the British Embassy to the State of Israel, with the suggestion that it might be moved away from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Cardinal Nichols tweeted. “Such a relocation of the UK Embassy would be seriously damaging to any possibility of lasting peace in the region and to the international reputation of the United Kingdom.”

“Pope Francis and the leaders of churches in the Holy Land have long called for the international Status Quo on Jerusalem to be upheld, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions,” the cardinal continued. “The city must be shared as a common patrimony, never becoming an exclusive monopoly of any party.”

“I can see no valid reason why a move needs now to be considered. I ask the Prime Minister earnestly to reconsider the intention she has expressed and to focus all efforts on seeking a two-state solution, in which Jerusalem would have a guaranteed special status.”

Last month, Truss, the leader of the Conservative Party, met with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Truss reportedly told Lapid that she is reviewing the location of Britain’s embassy in Israel and considering moving it from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also criticized the potential move of the embassy. A spokesperson addressed the subject in a statement to UK Jewish newspaper The Jewish News on Friday:

“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.”

It should be noted that the Palestinian Authority rejects the idea of Jerusalem as an international city. The Muslim authorities demand a Muslim monopoly on prayer at sites that are holy to all three Abrahamic religions.

The Stop Antisemitism organization tweeted a response to Cardinal Nichols, citing the antisemitic history of the Catholic Church:

 “The Catholic Church did enough during WW2. Your input and opinions are not needed – today or EVER. Perhaps you can instead spend your time giving back the countless Jewish artifacts stolen from Jewish families during the Holocaust that you refuse to give back.”

Israel Britain,  a UK based organization that celebrates Britain’s relationship with the State of Israel, was equally critical of the Catholic Church.

“@IsraelBritain has respect for all clergy but interventions like this from @CardinalNichols reveal a fundamental political naivety. Sovereign states naming their own capital is normal. When did normal become a bad idea?”

Human Rights Lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky criticized Cardinal Nichols, tweeting: “Dear Cardinal, I suggest you read over scriptures, what they say about Jerusalem. You might then care to reconsider your opinion.”

Truss has long been a supporter of Israel. In November 2021, Truss and Lapid announced a new decade-long deal aimed at stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. At a Tory Party conference event in Birmingham on Sunday, she reaffirmed this commitment.

“In this world – where we are facing threats from authoritarian regimes who don’t believe in freedom and democracy,” she said. “Two free democracies, the UK and Israel, need to stand shoulder to shoulder and we will be even closer in the future.”

At a Conservative Friends of Israel reception last week, Truss said she is a “huge Zionist and huge supporter of Israel” and once again pledged she would “take the UK-Israel relationship from strength to strength”.

President Donald Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, paving the way for the Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab nations. 

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