British Prime Minister Theresa May aired her differences with President Trump over the U.S. policy on Jerusalem during a phone call Tuesday, but you wouldn't know it from the White House account of the conversation.
“The President and Prime Minister discussed next steps in forging peace in the Middle East,” the White House said in a written statement.
Hours earlier, No. 10 Downing Street had issued a polite but unmistakably more pointed version of events.
“They discussed the different positions we took on the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and agreed on the importance of the US bringing forward new proposals for peace and the international community supporting these efforts,” a spokesman for May said in a written statement.
Britain has spoken against the U.S. decision earlier this month to recognize the divided holy city as the capital of Israel and to announce a renewed intention to move the U.S. Embassy there. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, as the capital of a future state.
Britain was also among the 14 other nations that voted at the U.N. Security Council to order President Trump to rescind his decision. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley vetoed the measure, sponsored by U.S. ally Egypt, and angrily denounced what she called an “insult” to U.S. sovereignty.
The U.N. measure would have affirmed that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”
It is unusual for Britain to break with the United States, and No. 10 usually goes to lengths to paper over any policy disagreements. The U.S. disagreement with Britain over Jerusalem, however, followed others over Trump's decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and to back away from the international nuclear deal with Iran.
May also rebuked Trump last month over his sharing of anti-Muslim propaganda videos from a far-right British political faction.
“I am very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do,” May said then.
Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, tweeted that he had raised the video tweets directly with the White House.
“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which seek to divide communities & erode decency, tolerance & respect,” Darroch wrote.
British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which seek to divide communities & erode decency, tolerance & respect. British Muslims are peaceful and law abiding citizens. And I raised these concerns with the White House yesterday.
— Kim Darroch (@KimDarroch) November 30, 2017
British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson went a bit further in condemning the group Trump had amplified on Twitter, although he did not call out Trump directly.
Britain First is a divisive, hateful group whose views are not in line with our values. UK has a proud history as an open, tolerant society & hate speech has no place here
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 29, 2017
Trump has accepted May's invitation to visit Britain, most likely early next year. The trip has been in limbo in part because of the threat of large public protests in Britain.
“That invitation has been extended and accepted,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday. “We're working with them to finalize the details, which we expect to announce soon, and we'll keep you guys posted on that once that's finalized.”