Top UK Labour official says Jerusalem should be run by international body

Emily Thornberry speaks of East Jerusalem as future capital of Palestine and Tel Aviv as that of Israel; Board of Deputies calls remarks ‘absurd’

Shadow Secretary Emily Thornberry gives a speech at the 2016 Labour conference. (CC BY-SA 4.0, Rwendland, Wikipedia)
Shadow Secretary Emily Thornberry gives a speech at the 2016 Labour conference. (CC BY-SA 4.0, Rwendland, Wikipedia)

Senior UK Labour Party member Emily Thornberry this week said Jerusalem should be “run by an international body” and recognized East Jerusalem as the likely future capital of Palestine while citing Tel Aviv as the potential capital of Israel.

“Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was wrong and undermines international convention which is that Jerusalem should be an international capital of the entire world and it should be something that is run by an international body,” she said in a Tuesday interview with the LBC radio station.

Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, called for “two states in that particular part of the Middle East” and acknowledged the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, but not Israel’s.

“And we know that the Palestinians claim part of Jerusalem for their state when it is eventually recognized,” she said, indicating that she was speaking on behalf of the opposition party.

Thornberry said Labour’s position on Jerusalem “doesn’t mean we don’t agree there should be a state of Israel with Tel Aviv as its capital.”

She also referred to the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Tel Aviv, saying it “would have been wrong for it to have been in Jerusalem because…[the city] is highly contested.”

Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, with Emily Thornberry in London, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Thornberry’s remarks were criticized by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which called it “absurd” of the Labour lawmaker “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 spokesman said, according to Jewish News.

Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said: “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3000 years. It has been the capital of the State of Israel for seven decades. To deny this not only distorts the truth but harms the prospects of achieving peace.”

Britain’s Labour Party made strong gains in Britain’s 2017 elections under leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran leftist and supporter of pro-Palestinian causes.

But a series of incidents involving him and other party members have led to allegations of a growing culture of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments within the party under Corbyn’s watch.

Corbyn says he is not anti-Semitic and has vowed to root out bigotry against Jews. But nine members of the opposition party have quit in recent month, with many citing alleged anti-Jewish racism. One of them, Jewish lawmaker Luciana Berger, said she received death threats amid a slew of abuse and concluded that the party had become institutionally anti-Semitic.

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