Britain rules out embassy move to Jerusalem

Alistair Burt
Updated 27 February 2018

Britain rules out embassy move to Jerusalem

RIYADH: Britain will not follow the US in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a senior UK government minister told Arab News on Monday.
“The United Kingdom is very clear. This was not a decision that we would have made,” said Alistair Burt, the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa.
“If there is a settlement of the issue, I’m sure at that stage it would be possible to move the embassy. At that stage there will be a state of Palestine, and the UK will be very pleased to have an embassy there. So no, we will not be following the United States in this regard.”
US President Donald Trump announced the embassy move late last year, provoking disapproval throughout the Arab world, protests in the occupied West Bank and an overwhelming vote of condemnation at the UN General Assembly in New York. His administration said this week the new embassy would open on May 14.
Burt was speaking to Arab News at an award ceremony in Riyadh for Saudi alumni of British universities.
The minister said Western countries had missed the opportunity to intervene in Syria “probably some years ago” when the Assad regime first used chemical weapons against civilians.
“No one knows what the impact of that intervention would have been,” he said, “but we do know what has happened subsequently, which has been a tragedy.
“The killing and the attacks in Eastern Ghouta must stop. There is no reason for them, there is no excuse for them. The injuries to innocent civilians shock the whole world, but the wider problem is an issue of international order now.
“If the UN Security Council cannot ensure that there is peace and the conflict comes to an end, then there are many big questions for society.”


Israel halts fuel shipments to Gaza over fire balloon launches

Updated 8 min 41 sec ago

Israel halts fuel shipments to Gaza over fire balloon launches

  • Palestinians launched the balloons laden with incendiary material in a bid to pressure Israel to ease its blockade of the Strip and allow new economic projects
  • Israel had earlier retaliated by closing the Strip’s main commercial crossing and striking Hamas military facilities

TEL AVIV/GAZA: Israel on Thursday said it will stop shipments of fuel into Gaza in response to Palestinians in the enclave launching incendiary balloons that have torched tracts of farmland on the Israeli frontier.
Palestinians in Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza in recent days have launched dozens of helium balloons laden with incendiary material in a bid to pressure Israel to ease its blockade of the Strip and allow new economic projects.
Israel, which cites security threats from Hamas for its land and naval blockade, had earlier retaliated by closing the Strip’s main commercial crossing and striking Hamas military facilities with warplanes, attack helicopters and tanks.
Escalating the measures on Thursday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered a halt to fuel imports into Gaza “in light of the continued launching of incendiary balloons from the Strip” toward Israel, the defense ministry said in a statement.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the measure a “grave act of aggression” that “aims to worsen the crisis of our people in the blockaded Strip.” The Mediterranean coastal enclave relies on Israel for most of its fuel and gas.
The halt in fuel could shut down Gaza’s sole power plant and lead to further electricity cuts for households and businesses, according to Mohammad Thabet, an official with Gaza’s main power distribution company.
Palestinians in Gaza currently get six hours of electricity followed by a 10 hour power cut.
A cease-fire deal brokered last year by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations following a deadly surge in violence was to see Israel allow new development projects, including an industrial zone and a hospital.
Hamas has accused Israel of not fully complying with those understandings. Israel, which deems Hamas a terrorist organization, shuns direct negotiations and has never publicly acknowledged the deal.
On Wednesday, Israel reduced the area where it permits Palestinians to fish from 15 miles (24 km) to eight miles (13 km), calling it a response to the balloon launches.