Press Release: UK Government Confirms No Plans to Move UK Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has received a personal assurance from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) Levant and North Africa Department that following a review by the UK Government, “there are no plans to move the UK embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv.

The FCDO confirmed the UK’s position on the status of Jerusalem is that “it should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians”, and that Jerusalem “should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states”.

The ICJP has consistently reiterated the danger such a move would pose and therefore welcome the FCDO’s assurance that there are no plans to move the UK Embassy in Israel.

The ICJP previously wrote to former Prime Minister Liz Truss on 18 October 2022, and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on 3 November 2022, enclosing a detailed legal opinion prepared by leading human rights law firm Bindmans LLP and senior international law counsel. 

This opinion states that there are strong grounds to conclude that moving the UK Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would constitute a violation of the UK’s obligations under international law as it would imply recognition of unilateral legislative, administrative, and other measures adopted by Israel in relation to Jerusalem. These measures, which include Israel’s enactment of Basic Law 1980 declaring Jerusalem “complete and united” as Israel’s capital, have been repeatedly declared invalid by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and the UN Security Council (UNSC). The UNSC has affirmed that the enactment of the Basic Law 1980 constitutes a violation of international law. 

The legal opinion further states that there are strong grounds to conclude that the move would violate the UK’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which require that the UK does everything in its power to ensure respect for those Conventions by other States and non-State parties to a conflict. The opinion also states that moving the Embassy may cause the UK to violate its obligations under the Geneva Conventions ‘not to encourage, aid or assist violations of the Conventions by another State’.