Boris Johnson has been accused of putting a two-state solution in the Middle East at fresh risk after suggesting Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is a “moment of opportunity” for peace.
The Foreign Secretary came under fire from a senior MP for “making policy up on the hoof” and weakening Britain’s stated opposition to the US President’s provocative move.
The criticism came after Mr Johnson used a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to accept the “decision” – and to express hope it will spark a new peace plan from the White House.
“Clearly that decision feeds into that. Let's see where we get to. Funnily enough there is a moment of opportunity here,” Mr Johnson said.
“Clearly, Jerusalem now having been recognised by the US as the capital of Israel, one would expect some symmetrical movement in the other direction to get things moving.”
Until Monday’s meeting, the UK Government had – in common with most world capitals – criticised Mr Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv as putting peace further away than ever.
Chris Bryant, a Labour member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told The Independent: “Boris Johnson seems to be making policy up on the hoof, which is only going to make it harder to achieve a two-state solution.
“I thought the Government had a very settled position on this, which Theresa May has restated several times, but this seems to confuse that.
“Instead, Boris Johnson seems to be taking a position that would be a complete capitulation and abandonment of a two-state-solution.”
A No 10 spokesman made no mention of the Jerusalem controversy in its description of Mrs May’s earlier talks with the US Secretary of State.
“They discussed the continuing depth and breadth of the special relationship,” he said.
“They agreed on the importance of the international community coming together to counter Iran's destabilising regional activity, and the Prime Minister reiterated the UK's commitment to the Iran nuclear deal.”
Mr Bryant added: “If Boris Johnson is going to change policy on Jerusalem, he needs to come to Parliament to explain that? Is he going to move the British embassy to Jerusalem as well, if he thinks the US doing so will help?”
The Foreign Secretary and his US counterpart had used their London meeting to rebuild the two countries’ “special relationship” after recent tensions between Theresa May and Mr Trump.
Mr Tillerson said: “We spend a lot of time talking about the world's problems. Sometimes we forget about the importance of our own relationship.
“We treasure this relationship. I treasure Boris's relationship with me personally.”
The warm words come before the Prime Minister meets the US President at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, for what has been billed as a “clear the air” meeting.
Mr Trump cancelled a planned trip to London for the opening of the new US Embassy building, after Mrs May publicly rebuked him for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by the far-right Britain First group.
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