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UK embassy in Israel: Full letter from Muslim leaders in Jerusalem to King Charles III

MEE reveals letter from Islamic Waqf and Grand Mufti of Palestine directed to new British monarch over Israeli embassy location review
Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's old city on the first day of Eid al-Adha, on 31 July 2020 (AFP)

Editor's note: The following is the full letter sent by senior Muslim leaders in Jerusalem to King Charles III, following UK Prime Minister Liz Truss's decision to review the location of the British embassy in Israel and consider moving it from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Dear His Majesty King Charles III,

The Council of the Islamic Jerusalem Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs, one of the institutions of the Hashemite King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein’s Custodianship of the Islamic and Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem, sends His Majesty King Charles III best regards and wishes of great leadership of the United Kingdom and its respected people.

We also would like to express our deepest condolences and profound sympathies on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. We wish Your Majesty would be enduring wellness and fortitude to strengthen the pillars of peace and warm relations between world nations on basis of justice, equality and mutual respect. 

His Majesty, 

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We have noted with deep concern the recent call of the British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, for her government to review the placement of the British Embassy to Israel by seeking to move the embassy from its present location in Tel Aviv to a new site in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has been a great example of coexistence and peace between its religious communities for centuries. The International Community, including the United Kingdom, recognized the special historic and legal arrangement, also known as the “Status Quo” since 1852. This special arrangement safeguarded the rights of religions, their relationships, the Holy Sites and the authentic character of the Holy City of Jerusalem. The respect of the Status Quo continued until the Occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, when Israel started to impose many unilateral measures in favor of its Jewish identity/community. The international community has denied these unilateral measures, including the announcement of both sides of the city, as united capital of the State of Israel in 1980, by frequently adopting tens of UNGA/UNSC/UNESCO resolutions. 

The conservation of the pre-1967 Status Quo in Jerusalem is essential for preserving our religious rights, peace in our Holy City and good relations between the religious communities around the globe. The recognition of this Status Quo made most of the world’s governments refraining from moving their embassies to Jerusalem until reaching a final status arrangement by peace and negotiations not by occupation and enforcement.

We oppose moving the British embassy to Jerusalem since we understand it, as a message to the universe that the UK, in contrary to the international law and the Status Quo, accepts the continuing Israeli illegal military occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Israeli unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem and the Israeli illegal Judaization measures in the Holy City.  Such move undermines the two-state solution, cancels the possible peace agreement demarcation of borders between the two states. It also inflames religious conflict and an already instable situation in Jerusalem, the rest of the occupied territories and among communities in the UK and worldwide. 

Finally, we hope that the British Government will keep on its historic refrain from moving its embassy to Jerusalem and upkeep its commitment to safeguard the historic Status Quo in the Old City of Jerusalem. 

Sheikh Abdul-Azim Salhab, Head of the Council of Islamic Jerusalem Awqaf

Sheikh Mohammad Azam Al-Khatib, Director General of Jerusalem Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs 

Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, Great Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine 

Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, Chair of the Islamic Higher Commission in Jerusalem 

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