Thank you to those who contacted me about the situation in Jerusalem.
My ministerial colleagues and I are committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and to promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Indeed, promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's longstanding human rights priorities.
Jerusalem is a holy city to so many, and the UK remains firmly of the belief that maintaining the historic Status Quo is the only means of ensuring freedom of worship. All religious sites should be treated with utmost respect in line with UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/258.
Indeed, the position of the UK Government on this matter has remained constant since April 1950, when the UK extended de jure recognition to the State of Israel, but withheld recognition of sovereignty over Jerusalem pending a final determination of its status. The UK recognises Israel’s de facto authority over West Jerusalem but regards East Jerusalem as under Israeli occupation.
Let me also assure you that the UK is committed to the protection of media freedom around the world, including the safety of journalists when carrying out their critical work. HM Government continues to stress the importance of the Israeli security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population, as well as repeatedly calling for restraint in the use of force. Because of this, I do not believe it is necessary to sign EDM 153 at this time, however, I join ministers in London and officials from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, British Consulate in Jerusalem and at the UN in calling for calm during this important period of religious festivals for Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. HM Government did so most recently at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on 19 April.
It is crucial that all parties take urgent steps to reduce tensions and avoid further escalation. The UK is committed to playing its part in this regard and our officials have been engaging with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to support them to this end.