FCO bans Israel-Gibraltar 'friendship stamp'

One is a contested territory besieged for centuries by neighbours fighting to capture it - the other is Jerusalem's David Citadel tower.

The Foreign Office had no problem with the appearance of the Rock of Gibraltar on an Israel-Gibraltar "friendship stamp". But the inclusion of the Israeli landmark, "situated on disputed territory in Jerusalem" as the FCO put it, led it to demand a redesign, and Israel Post to cancel the stamp.

The stamp had already been printed and was ready for distribution before the Foreign Office intervened. Officials in the British territory compensated Israel Post for the cost of printing the stamps.

The cancellation was met with anger in Israel and Gibraltar. Former mayor of the territory Solomon Levy said he was "disgusted" by the Foreign Office decision.

An Israeli source said: "If 3,000 years of Jewish residence in Jerusalem is considered controversial, the mere 300 years that Britain has been in Gibraltar would certainly be a problem.

"If the image has to be changed to Tel Aviv, then it is also appropriate to depict the 'safer option' of Coronation Street, rather than the Rock."

The source said "no serious person" would deny that Jerusalem is synonymous with the state of Israel.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that it "objected to a particular design which included the image of a building situated on disputed territory in Jerusalem."

Last updated: 3:54pm, February 23 2012