The UK Should End Its Confused and Absurd Position on Jerusalem

June 28 2022

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.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Jerusalem, Queen Elizabeth II, United Kingdom

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy