Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”At the convergence of Passover, Ramadan and Easter the UK calls for all parties to respect the historic Status Quo arrangements at Jerusalem’s Holy Sites and cease all provocative action.”

James Cleverly, Foreign Secretary, FCDO Press Release

Facts

Israeli security forces brutally assaulted Palestinian worshippers inside Al Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

In shocking scenes heavily armed officers used stun grenades and fired tear gas into the Qibli prayer hall where hundreds of men, women, elderly people and children were staying overnight to pray during the holy month of Ramadan.

A statement was required from the British government, and James Cleverly obliged. “At the convergence of Passover, Ramadan and Easter” stated the foreign secretary, “the UK calls for all parties to respect the historic Status Quo arrangements at Jerusalem’s Holy Sites and cease all provocative action.”

Yet only one party had invaded Al Aqsa. Only one party had used brutal force. Only one party had broken international law. The Israeli government.

The statement is just the most recent example of structural dishonesty not just from a foreign secretary who has a long record of playing fast and loose with the truth, but also from the UK Foreign Office.

British diplomats will have been keenly aware of events inside Al Aqsa, given that corroborated video footage of Israeli forces beating up worshippers was circulating widely by the time Cleverly made his statement. 

They know perfectly well that the Status Quo agreement, which can be traced back to the Treaty of Berlin of 1878 and before, placed responsibility for internal security with Jordan’s King Abdullah, giving no role to Israeli forces inside the Al Aqsa compound. 

And they are wide awake to the fact that Israel, starting with the storming of the courtyard by Ariel Sharon (then leader of Israel’s opposition) in 2000, has pursued a systematic policy of undermining the Status Quo.

Verdict

The British foreign secretary issued a highly selective statement that ignored the facts and wrongly suggested that “all parties” were responsible for Israeli violence at Al Aqsa.

We emailed Mr Cleverly’s parliamentary office and the FCDO offering him the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply. 

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