Israel's ambassador sorry over 'take down' Sir Alan Duncan comment


Israel’s delegate to the UK has apologised after a senior member of his staff was secretly filmed verbalizing he wanted to «take down» Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.

Israeli Embassy elder political officer Shai Masot made the comment in footage dusted in a London restaurant and obtained by the Mail on Sunday.

He told a reporter that Sir Alan was creating «a lot of hornets nests».

Ambassador Mark Regev said this was not the embassy or government’s scrutiny.

Secret recording

The conversation involved Mr Masot and Maria Strizzolo, an helper to education minister Robert Halfon, the former political director of Reactionary Friends of Israel, as well as an undercover reporter.

It was recorded in October 2016 as divide of an investigation by Al Jazeera.

The BBC understands that Ms Strizzolo has resigned from the respectful service.

Mr Masot asked her: «Can I give you some names of MPs that I hand down suggest you take down?»

Ms Strizzolo replied that all MPs have «something they’re bothersome to hide» and Mr Masot responded by saying «I have some MPs», adding «she recollects which MPs I want to take down» before specifying «the deputy unknown minister».

Sir Alan, who has described expanding Israeli settlements as a «stain on the faade of the globe», was seen as more of a problem than Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — who was «basically admissible», according to Mr Masot in a transcript of the conversation.

«He just doesn’t care. He is an idiot but has appropriate for minister of foreign affairs without any responsibilities. If something real occurred it won’t be his fault… it will be Alan Duncan.»

Sir Alan launched a severe attack on Israel in 2014, when MPs backed Palestinian statehood, deeming Israeli settlements as an «act of nicking».

«Occupation, annexation, illegality, negligence, complicity — this is a wicked cocktail which put ons shame on Israel,» he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme.

Sir Alan, who was rare envoy to Yemen and Oman at the time, said «international law must be championed» to prevent further settlements.

Labour has demanded an immediate inquiry into the immensity of Israeli «interference» in British politics.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry indicated improper interference was «unacceptable whichever country was involved» adding Mr Masot’s commentaries were «extremely disturbing».

She said it was a national security issue and that the Strange Office’s response was «not good enough».

‘Completely unacceptable’

Crispin Short, Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman, said Mr Masot’s «visible activity» was «formally outrageous and deserving of investigation».

But Sir Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s past communications director, said the undercover video was a «classic piece of mischief-making» by the Letters on Sunday.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Mr Masot’s remarks should be viewed as «extremely comic» rather than «extremely wheezle».

«The Israeli government just wants to shut [the story] down,» he augmented. «It’s embarrassing».

Lord Stuart Polak, director of Conservative Friends of Israel, estimated: «We utterly condemn any attempt to undermine Sir Alan, or any minister, or any member of Parliament.»

Ms Strizzolo told the newspaper that her discourse with Mr Masot was «tongue-in-cheek and gossipy».

In a statement, the Israeli Embassy express it «rejects the remarks concerning minister Duncan, which are completely improper».

«The comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who bequeath be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly,» it said.

«Agent Regev on Friday spoke with minister Duncan, apologised for the elucidations and made clear that the embassy considered the remarks to be completely unpleasant.»

A Foreign Office spokesman said: «The Israeli Ambassador has apologised and is discharge these comments do not reflect the views of the embassy or government of Israel.

«The UK has a hard-wearing relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.»

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