Monday, 9 January 2017

Israeli Embassy Official Caught on Camera Discussing 'Taking Down' British Lawmakers

This is a scandal in Britain right now.

How many British MPs are working for Israel?

Jonathon Cook


8 January, 2016

Al Jazeera are to be congratulated on an undercover investigation exposing something most of us could probably have guessed: that some Israeli embassy staff in the UK – let’s not pussy around, Mossad agents – are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British, interests.

One cannot really blame Israel for doing this. Most states promote their interests as best they can. But one can and should expose and shame the British politicians who are collaborating with Israel in further harming Britain’s representative democracy.

It is not as though these people cannot be easily identified. They even advertise what they are up to. They are members of the Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel. They dominate both parliamentary parties, but especially the Conservatives. According to the CFI’s figures, fully 80 per cent of Tory MPs belong to the party’s Friends of Israel group.

Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. And yet, as Al Jazeera’s secretly filmed footage shows, Israeli spies like Shai Masot can readily meet and conspire with a Tory minister’s much-trusted aide to discuss how best to “take down” the deputy foreign minister, Alan Duncan, over his criticisms of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Maria Strizzolo, education minister Robert Halfon’s assistant, suggests engineering a “little scandal” to damage Duncan.

Masot and Israel’s intelligence services cannot infuence British foreign policy through the opposition Labour party, but that doesn’t prevent them from also taking a keen interest in Labour MPs. Masot is filmed talking to Labour Friends of Israel’s chair, Joan Ryan, about “lots of money” – more than £1 million – he has received from the Israeli government to send yet another batch of Labour MPs on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, where they will be wined and dined, and primed by top officials to adopt even more extreme pro-Israel positions. LFI is known for sending the largest proportion of MPs to Israel on these kinds of trips.

Does that have an effect on British domestic politics. You bet it does! Israel isn’t a charity.

A large number of those who have been making Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s life a misery belong to Labour Friends of Israel. They are the same MPs who have been talking up an “anti-semitism crisis” in the Labour party – based on zero tangible evidence – since Corbyn became party leader. Were they following the dictates of their conscience? Did they really fear an anti-semitism plague had suddenly beset their party? Or were they playing deeply cynical politics to oust a leader who supports justice for the Palestinian people and is considered by Israel’s rightwing government, which has no interest in making peace with the Palestinians, to be bad news for Israel?

Al Jazeera’s investigation has not been shown yet, so we can rely only on the snippets released so far, either by Al Jazeera itself or additional leaks of the investigation provided by the Mail on Sunday.

It is worth listening to a Tory minister in the government of recently departed David Cameron, who writes anonymously in the Mail on Sunday. S/he warns of a double whammy to British politics caused by Israel and its British partisans – one that is starting to approach the damage done to the US political system by Israel.

The British government skews its foreign policy to avoid upsetting Jewish donors, s/he says. MPs, meanwhile, act like agents of a foreign power – s/he generously assumes unwittingly – rather than representatives of the British people. Forget international law, these politicians are not even promoting British interests.

Here is what the minister writes:
British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.
For years the CFI and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), have worked with – even for – the Israeli government and their London embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK Government policy and the actions of Ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.
Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive Governments have submitted to it, taken donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of Ministers.
Even now, if I were to reveal who I am, I would be subjected to a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination. …
It now seems clear people in the Conservative and Labour Parties have been working with the Israeli embassy, which has used them to demonise and trash MPs who criticise Israel; an army of Israel’s useful idiots in Parliament.
This is politically corrupt, and diplomatically indefensible. The conduct of certain MPs needs to be exposed as the poisonous and deceitful infiltration of our politics by the unwitting agents of another country …
We need a full inquiry into the Israeli Embassy, the links, access and funding of the CFI and LFI.

It is rare that I agree with a Tory government minister, but such an inquiry cannot come too soon.

Note too that it is an indictment of the UK media that Al-Jazeera, rather than the British fourth estate, has exposed Israel’s moves to subvert the British political system. It is not as though reporters from the BBC, Guardian, Times and the Mail haven’t had ministers like the one above complaining to them for years about interference from Israel. So why did they not long ago send in undercover teams to expose this collusion between Israel and British MPs?

We have had weeks of stories about the supposed efforts of Russia and Putin to subvert the US election, without a hint yet of any evidence, and based on a central allegation against the Russians that they compromised the election result by releasing truthful information about wrongdoing in the Democratic party. Russian diplomats have been expelled based on these evidence-free claims, and President Obama has vowed to take other, covert action against Russia.

Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. If that isn’t interference in the British political system I don’t know what is. Will we similarly have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?

And will any action beyond the removal of Masot be demanded by the British government? It seems unlikely. The Foreign Office has already issued a statement saying that, following Masot’s dismissal, it considers the matter closed.

Israel apology after plot against UK politicians

Al Jazeera reveals discussions of Israeli diplomat and UK civil servant to 'take down' anti-settlement politicians


Al-Jazeera,

8 January, 2017

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.




Shai Masot, senior political officer at the Israeli embassy [Al Jazeera]
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".


RELATED: Israel's parliamentary plot against UK politicians


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.


For half a year, Robin (alias), an undercover reporter working with Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit, met with members of Britain's lobby network that enjoys strong support from the Israeli government by way of the Israeli embassy in London.


Robin posed as a graduate activist with strong sympathies towards Israel who was eager to help combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement prominent in Britain.


Shaping foreign policy agenda


Strizzolo, while advising Robin, revealed that she had a strategy of manipulation to ensure Israel remains at the top of the UK's foreign policy agenda.


"If at least you can get a small group of MPs that you know you can always rely on, when there is something coming to parliament and you know you brief them, you say: 'You don't have to do anything, we are going to give you the speech, we are going to give you all the information, we are going to do everything for you'," she said.


She also advised trying to infiltrate Prime Minster's Questions, a weekly session in which the leader of the country answers questions from MPs. The debate is televised live.


"If they already have the question to table for PMQs [Prime Minister's Questions], it's harder to say: 'No, no, no, I won't do it'," she said.


Strizzolo then boasted how her own efforts once made an immediate effect on the national debate.


While in Israel with the Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary group in 2014, she persuaded MP Halfon to question the prime minster in public over three missing teenagers believed to have been kidnapped and murdered "to get a response from the government", Strizzolo said.


Halfon took the request and called on former prime minister David Cameron to support the Israeli government, which he said should do "everything possible to take out Hamas terrorist networks".


In response, Cameron promised that Britain would "stand by Israel".


Al Jazeera Investigative Unit's series "The Lobby" can be viewed on Al Jazeera at the following times:


Episode One - Sunday, January 15: 22:30 GMT


Episode Two - Monday, January 16, 22:30 GMT


Episode Three - Tuesday, January 17, 22:30 GMT


Episode Four - Wednesday, January 18, 22:30 GMT

The series will also be available online.

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