The Israeli embassy has apologised to UK Deputy Foreign Secretary Sir Alan Duncan for comments made by one of its staff members on plans “to take [him] down” due to his criticism of Israel’s settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.
The comments, made by a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy Shai Masot, were secretly captured on film during a six-month undercover operation by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, which reveals plots by the Israeli diplomat and a British civil servant to destroy the careers of senior politicians.
In a conversation with Maria Strizzolo, who was then chief of staff to MP Robert Halfon, the deputy chairman of the ruling Conservative Party, Masot asked her if he could give her some names of MPs he would suggest she “take down”.
Masot named Duncan, who in 2014 said that while he fully supports Israel’s right to exist, he believes settlements on occupied Palestinian land represent an “ever-deepening stain on the face of the globe”. He also likened the situation in Hebron in the occupied West Bank to apartheid.
Strizzolo later hinted that “a little scandal” might see Duncan dismissed.
At the same dinner table conversation, Masot described British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Duncan’s boss, as an “idiot … without any kind of responsibilities”, while Strizzolo said he was “solid on Israel”.
Since the announcement by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit of its findings – and the international media coverage that followed – the Israeli embassy tweeted a response saying that Masot would be “ending his term shortly”, adding that Mark Regev, ambassador of Israel to the UK, had apologised to Duncan “and made clear that the embassy considered the remarks to be completely unacceptable”.
But this latest disclosure is just one among the Investigative Unit’s many findings, which will be revealed in a four-part series “The Lobby” that will be broadcast daily on Al Jazeera from January 15 at 22:30 GMT.
The undercover investigation reveals how the Israeli government is in the midst of a brazen, covert influence campaign in Britain.