Calling on the new British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Stephen Daisley writes:
The UK’s policy, one shared by the overwhelming majority of countries, is to . . . pretend that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel because we fear doing otherwise would concede that international law, or at least the dominant reading of it, has failed as a conceptual framework in the most scrutinized conflict of modern times. We wish to see a viable Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem and fret that acknowledging Israel’s capital would prejudice or hinder that.
This is an error born of a paradox. Mindful of its history in Palestine, Britain wishes to be uninvolved in the conflict but uninvolved in a way that aggrandizes its status in the region. By withholding recognition of Jerusalem, we tell ourselves, the UK is advancing the cause of peace. . . . The Palestinian conflict with Israel will end when the Palestinians accept their own state alongside the Jewish state. Nothing we say or do is likely to influence them either way. This is their conflict, not ours.
Those of us who advocate recognition tend to do so in political, historical, moral, legal, and, yes, emotional terms. But there is also a realist case. . . . Does upholding the failed status quo advance or hinder our material interests? Israeli companies support thousands of jobs in the UK. London, Scotland, and the northwest alone sell half a billion in goods to Israel every year. The Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva provides one in every six medicines prescribed on the NHS. Mossad has supplied us with information that has helped break up terrorist cells in London. It is plain where our interests lie.