Palestinians have expressed outrage over reports that British Prime Minister Liz Truss is considering relocating the UK embassy in Tel Aviv to the occupied holy city of al-Quds in a controversial decision that would follow in former US president Donald Trump’s footsteps.
Some Palestinians described the move as “a new Balfour Declaration” and said it proves Britain’s bias in favor of the Israeli regime.
The Balfour Declaration came in the form of a letter from Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community. It was published on November 2, 1917.
The declaration was made during World War I (1914-1918) and was included in the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
It is widely seen as the precursor to the 1948 Palestinian Nakba, when Zionist armed paramilitary groups, who were trained and created to fight side by side with the British in World War II, forcibly expelled more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland.
An unnamed Palestinian Authority official said the Ramallah-based and Fatah-controlled government body that exercises partial civil control over West Bank areas has not received an official statement from the British government regarding the relocation of the embassy.
The official warned that such “dangerous” moves would have a negative impact on the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The official pointed out that the reports about relocating the British embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds emerged shortly after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Truss met in New York, where they are attending the 77th United Nations General Assembly session.
Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative Party, said the British prime minister belongs to the “pro-Zionist” conservatives and is known for volte-face on her stances.
Barghouti stated that Truss and her friends were trying to win the support of the Jewish community in Britain.
“I wasn’t surprised because the positions of this British government are against the interests of Palestinian people,” Barghouti said in an interview with a local Palestinian radio station.
“But I don’t think they will succeed in moving the embassy because of the fierce opposition by the friends of Palestinians in Britain,” he noted.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad condemnations
Meanwhile, the Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance movements condemned the reports about the relocation of the British embassy to al-Quds.
“The announcement by the British Prime Minister Liz Truss about her intention to move her country’s embassy to al-Quds is a flagrant bias toward the occupying regime,” Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif Qanou said.
He warned that the move would not give Israel any legitimacy “over one inch of our land.”
Hazem Qassem, another Hamas spokesman, warned that moving the British embassy would be considered a new crime by Britain against Palestinian people.
Islamic Jihad senior official Mohammed Shalah accused Britain of continuing to display “arrogance” against Palestinians.
“We are not surprised by what Britain is doing in light of the ongoing Arab and Islamic silence,” Shalah said.
“We blame the Arab and Islamic countries that are supposed to support al-Quds.”
Another Islamic Jihad official, Tareq Salmi, warned that the controversial British plan would spark the anger of Arabs and Muslims.
He denounced the move as a “hideous colonial aggression” against Palestinians, adding, “Britain is directly responsible for the tragedy of Palestinian people.”
Trump sparked controversy by officially recognizing al-Quds as the Israeli ‘capital’ in December 2017, before moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in May 2018.
Guatemala and Paraguay later followed suit, before the latter reversed its decision after just four months.
Israel lays claim to the entire al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as occupied territory and Palestinians consider it the capital of their future state.