Ministers 'made to look like fools' by Donald Trump's Jerusalem policy
Donald Trump has created a "trust deficit" in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine after his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a Foreign Office minister has said.
Alistair Burt told MPs other states would have to fill the gap left by the United States after the president's announcement in order to ensure the "prospects for peace are not diminished".
He said the nature of the US as a broker in the region would have been affected by the move, while Labour accused the Government of getting their "strategy" with Mr Trump "totally wrong".
My response to Trump's announcement on Jerusalem - even by his low standards, a breathtakingly reckless decision, which the UK government must unequivocally condemn: https://t.co/9kEsi4dTbC
-- Emily Thornberry (@EmilyThornberry) December 6, 2017
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, asking an urgent question in the Commons, said: "They told us that holding his hand and hugging him close, indulging him with the offer of a state visit, was the best way of wielding influence and shaping his policies.
"But on Jerusalem, as on so many other issues before, they have been made to look like fools. Weak, ignored and entirely without influence.
"When will they realise that bending over for a bully only encourages that behaviour, when what our country needs and what the world needs is a British Government prepared to stand up to him."
Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have criticised the decision, which Mr Trump claimed, in a White House speech, would mark "the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians" and that it was in America's interests.
PM: "We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement." Full statement: https://t.co/TEPAn7fX2U
-- UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) December 6, 2017
The president also announced plans to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the holy city but Mrs May said Britain had no plans to follow suit.
Mr Burt earlier told MPs the UK was co-sponsoring a meeting with European partners on Friday at the UN Security Council where the issue will be discussed.
He also urged the US administration to now bring forward detailed proposals for an Israeli and Palestinian settlement.
"The process has to move on," he said, adding: "If the process was derailed by this, that would compound the unhelpfulness of the decision."
Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a reckless threat to peace. The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict.
-- Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) December 6, 2017
Mr Burt went on to say: "The nature of the United States as a broker in the region will have been affected: that is I'm sure something that we're going to discuss tomorrow at the UN as to how the process can be taken forward.
"The United States will continue to play an important part but there is no doubt that there's a trust deficit because of yesterday's announcement and it is for other states to fill that gap in order to make sure that the prospects for peace are not diminished."
He faced several calls from MPs to recognise Palestine as a state, but said: "Recognition of the state of Palestine I don't think is necessarily a consequence of what we have heard yesterday. It is not a tit-for-tat, it is more important than that.
"Accordingly it should be a decision made by the United Kingdom at a time when we believe it is in the best interests of the process of peace, that is the view, and this is the view for now."
UK govt against US decision to move embassy to Jerusalem - unhelpful for prospects of peace in the region. Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. UK encourages renewed peace efforts. https://t.co/v26O063rzP
-- Alistair Burt (@AlistairBurtUK) December 6, 2017
Tory Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, suggested that Mr Trump's move "could end up being quite a good decision" if it leads to peace talks.
But Mr Burt said he had "no sense that yesterday's decision made a contribution to advancing the peace process".