Will the Tories Follow America’s Lead and Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital?

Aug. 19 2022

Since Boris Johnson’s resignation, the British Conservative party has been embroiled in a fierce competition among those who would replace him. Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak—the more centrist of the two frontrunners—was asked if he would move the UK’s embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He replied that the latter is indeed “the undisputed capital” of the Jewish state, although he hedged a bit about the placement of the embassy. Stephen Daisley notes that this is one of the few areas where Sunak is in agreement with his more rightwing rival, Liz Truss:

A Prime Minister Sunak who tried to recognize Jerusalem or move our embassy there would face the same obstacles as a Prime Minister Truss. The parliamentary opposition and some malcontents on the Tory benches would be highly vocal. The media would be hysterical, forecasting violence and danger to British personnel and interests. Foreign Office civil servants and diplomats would do their utmost to scupper it.

This is only more reason to press on and make the policy change. A government that allows civil servants and BBC producers to determine its foreign policy is no government at all. As for the dire warnings that can be expected, the United States, Russia, Australia, Guatemala, Honduras, Taiwan, Kosovo, and Nauru all recognize Jerusalem, wholly or in part, as Israel’s capital and the sky has yet to fall in.

Whatever happens, Conservative thinking about the Middle East has shifted in a measurably pro-Israel direction. . . . Support for Israel in the Conservative party was widespread before this leadership contest. In its wake, being pro-Israel might become a new litmus test for those aspiring to lead the party in the future.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Jerusalem, United Kingdom


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount