To celebrate the 70th anniversary Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, British diplomats hosted festivities across the world, including two in Israel—one, for Palestinians, in the Israeli capital and another, for Israelis, in Tel Aviv. Alastair Kirk notes that this odd arrangement reflects London’s longstanding claim, supposedly based on UN Security Council Resolution 242, that Jerusalem is not really part of the Jewish state:
The British government may genuinely believe that the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiation, but no one knows the finalized borders should there be a future Palestinian state. A British consulate in Jerusalem might be in the wrong place for a future Palestinian state. Likewise, if Jerusalem “must” be shared [between Israel and Palestinians] in the United Kingdom’s opinion, then why does Britain not just recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital today? After all, Israel has sovereignty over Jerusalem under international law.
There are two ways the United Kingdom can correct this hypocrisy. The first is to recognize the historic and legal fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and move the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The second option is to move the British consulate to the Palestinians from Jerusalem to Ramallah. Either of these actions would correct the double standard the government is currently deploying.
London refuses to locate its embassy in Jerusalem, despite the fact that Israel’s parliament and government are located in Jerusalem, the usual criteria for British embassies, more than 80 of which are in capital cities around the world. No other sovereign nation would accept being told where it should designate its capital.
It was British forces that liberated the holy city from Ottoman occupation in 1917, and it was the British Mandate for Palestine that preceded the rebirth of the modern-day state of Israel. Therefore, Britain has a unique responsibility to treat Israel honorably, and if it truly wants to be non-discriminatory, there is only one realistic option: move the embassy to Jerusalem.