British officials are reportedly set to maintain formal communications with the American embassy in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem al-Quds despite condemning its recent relocation, in what activists have denounced as a hypocritical approach adopted by London on Tel Aviv’s occupation.
Last week, the UK, along with France, Germany and much of the international diplomatic corps, boycotted a ceremony held to inaugurate the US embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds, which took place months after Washington announced it was recognizing the occupied city as the “capital” of Israel.
However, three days after the inauguration ceremony, UK Middle East Minister Alistair Burt rejected a call by the British Palestinian Policy Council for London to keep up the boycott and refuse to attend meetings in the embassy, the Middle East Eye news portal reported on Monday.
“When we asked him to confirm [that] UK officials would not attend meetings at the embassy going forward, as the UK does not recognize it, he was very clear that they would attend,” according to participants in a meeting between representatives of the Council and Burt.
The UK Foreign Office has now confirmed that diplomats and other representatives would take part in meetings at the embassy.
London has censured Washington’s controversial policy shift on Jerusalem al-Quds, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying back in December that such a decision would jeopardize the “prospects of peace” in the Middle East.
Earlier this month, the UK PM stressed that her country would not follow the US in its decision to take the American mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
Kamel Hawwash, vice chair of the British Palestinian Policy Council, told the Middle East Eye that the refusal to stop attending meetings at the US embassy “shows the hypocrisy of the UK, in that it appears to talk in a principled way, but when it comes to action it doesn’t.”
The report also cited Ben Jamal, director of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, as saying that the UK government needs to follow up its official position against Washington’s move with action.
“For the UK government to treat the situation as business as usual and attend meetings at the US embassy will only serve to normalize what the US has done,” he said. “We keep hearing that Theresa May’s government is willing to stand up to the Trump administration when they act in a wrong fashion. This will be a litmus of their willingness to do so.”
On Friday, Britain abstained from a United Nations Human Rights Council vote in favor of sending a team of international war crimes investigators to probe the latest massacre of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli military.
Only two of the council’s 47 members — the United States and Australia — voted against the resolution, while 14 abstained, including Britain, Switzerland and Germany.
Some 110 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured during the six-week “March of Return” protests that first began on March 30 near the fence separating Gaza from the Israeli-occupied territories.
On the day of the US embassy relocation alone, some 60 Palestinian protesters lost their lives when the Israeli military used snipers, tank fire, live ammunition and strikes to quell the angry protests against Israel and the US.