Times of London: Britain ‘Recognises Tel Aviv as Israel’s Capital’

The status of Jerusalem is one of the hottest of topics within the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israelis are adamant that they have the sovereign right to determine their capital like any other country, but with Palestinians claiming the land as their own, much of the international community refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – at least until a lasting peace agreement is signed.

And so, in the middle of an otherwise perfectly innocuous piece by Richard Spencer in the Times of London on July 4 about the American ambassadorial residence being put up for sale, one sentence caught our attention: “The embassy move was opposed by Palestinians and even US allies such as Britian, who recognise Tel Aviv as the capital, in line with UN resolutions, leaving Jerusalem’s future to be decided by peace negotiations.”

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There are two significant factual problems with this sentence:

  1.  Britain does not recognize Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. In fact, it has never recognized Tel Aviv as the capital.
  2. No UN resolution has ever determined that Tel Aviv is, or should be, the capital of Israel.

In reality, numerous countries, Britain included, do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That, however, is markedly different from actively designating another city as Israel’s capital. Capitals are chosen by sovereign states, not by meddling outsiders. Britain has no more of a right to select Tel Aviv as capital of Israel than Israel has a right to designate Wolverhampton the capital of the United Kingdom.

The reality is that Jerusalem is home to the following, among others:

  • The Knesset, Israel’s parliament
  • The Supreme Court of Israel
  • Beit Aghion, the official residence of the Prime Minister of Israel
  • Beit Hanassi, the official residence of the President of Israel
  • The Prime Minister’s Office
  • The Bank of Israel
  • The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Israel’s National Library

Thankfully, despite the sad reluctance of the vast majority of the world’s states to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, none are quite so arrogant as to dictate to Israel that another city is actually its capital.

Nevertheless, for years, there has been a peculiar tendency in the British media to refer to Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. Perhaps this is based on the fact that the location of the British embassy is in Tel Aviv, rather than Jerusalem.

So set in their beliefs are some quarters of the British media that HonestReporting was forced to take on The Guardian in 2012,  eventually setting a precedent by forcing it to change its style guide and the now-defunct Press Complaints Commission to rule in our favor – that Tel Aviv is not the Israeli capital.

Despite the reality that Israel’s national institutions are based in Jerusalem, the mistake that Tel Aviv is the capital keeps on surfacing – and HonestReporting keeps getting it corrected. But the suggestion that Tel Aviv is the capital is “in line with UN resolutions” is another level of misreporting entirely.

The Times of London must revise this clear inaccuracy.

HonestReporting has sent a complaint to the Times and will update as and when a response is received.

Source material can be found at this site.

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