Shadow Foreign Secretary says Jerusalem should be under international control

Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said yesterday that Jerusalem should be “run by an international body” and Tel Aviv should be Israel’s capital.

Speaking with Iain Dale on LBC radio, Thornberry indicated she would be in favour of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem when a Palestinian state is “eventually recognised”.

Thornberry claimed that the international convention regarding the status of Jerusalem is: “Jerusalem should be an international capital of the entire world and it should be something that is run by an international body.” She criticised the Trump administration’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Previous peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians to agree a two-state solution have proposed that Jerusalem should be the capital city for both Israel and a future Palestinian state but Thornberry said her position “doesn’t mean we don’t agree there should be a state of Israel with Tel Aviv as its capital”.

Thornberry also said she opposed a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest, being held in Tel Aviv this weekend, saying: “If it’s Israel’s turn then it should be in Israel. It would have been wrong for it to have been in Jerusalem due to the contested nature of the city.”

A spokeperson for the Board of Deputies of British Jews rebuked Thornberry for her comments: “It is absurd for Emily Thornberry to speak about Palestinian claims on the city of Jerusalem without even acknowledging Israel’s. We would expect her to clarify her inconsistencies and correct her one-sided view of this issue.”

A Labour source told the Jewish Chronicle that the comments were “odd and certainly not balanced”.

Dame Louise Ellman MP, vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said: “I am deeply disturbed to see Emily Thornberry apparently advocating that Tel Aviv should be Israel’s capital and that Jerusalem should be ruled by an international body. It is both British foreign policy and Labour Party policy that sovereignty over Jerusalem should be shared by Israelis and Palestinians … by mentioning only the Palestinian links to Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s current, historic and religious connection to the city is denied.”

BICOM CEO James Sorene said Thornberry’s comments “demonstrate stunning ignorance of decades of British policy regarding Jerusalem and the history of the two-state solution”.