UK pro-Israel lobby welcomes racist ambassador

Tzipi Hotovely is a hardline supporter of Israel’s illegal settlements, and her appointment as ambassador to the UK last year caused controversy (MEO).jpg

Asa Winstanley

The Electronic Intifada  /  October 7, 2020

Israel’s incoming ambassador to the UK arrived last week and was welcomed by the pro-Israel lobby.

A former senior government minister with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling hard-right Likud Party, Tzipi Hotovely is a religious extremist and open anti-Palestinian racist.

The Board of Deputies, Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel as well as one government minister look to social media to welcome her.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s director Ben Jamal said the welcomes were “disturbing,” describing her as “a racist who does not believe that Palestinians are a people with a history and a body of collective rights” and said she was “an unapologetic advocate for Israel’s annexation plans in defiance of international law.”

Welcoming her to the UK “can only serve to normalize such bigotry,” he said.

Hotovely has been campaigning for Israel to annex the entire West Bank for years – she is a leader in the so-called “sovereignty” movement.

She has demanded Palestinian homes in the West Bank be destroyed to make way for Israeli settlements – a war crime under international law.

She has even said that there is “no Palestinian people”.

And last week, video emerged of a speech in which she called for “expanding” Israel into Jordan and possibly Syria.

Leading Israel lobby group the Board of Deputies of British Jews (which claims to be concerned about “racial inclusivity”) last week tweeted their welcome.

The group said they looked forward to working with Hotovely “to advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing.”

Earlier this year the Board refused to condemn Netanyahu’s annexation plans, saying it could not “in good faith support one view over another” and will “facilitate this debate from all sides” among Jewish people in the UK.

Israeli media reported on Sunday that the British government has now agreed to Hotovely’s appointment in principle, although a date has not yet been set for her to be sworn in.

The UK foreign ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

James Cleverly, junior foreign minister responsible for the Middle East, on Friday tweeted a “huge welcome” to Hotovely and said he was looking forward to working with her.

Hotovely took part in a meeting between foreign minister Dominic Raab and Netanyahu in Jerusalem in August, where the prime minister demanded the UK change its policy towards Iran. Previous ambassador Mark Regev was also present.

A number of Israel lobby groups were enthusiastic about Hotovely’s arrival last week.

The Zionist Federation said it looked forward to meeting with Hotovely as soon as possible.

StandWithUs UK also welcomed her and wished her luck.

Sussex Friends of Israel gave her “a very warm welcome.”

Conservative Friends of Israel retweeted several tweets welcoming Hotovely to the UK.

Labour Friends of Israel also retweeted a welcome for her.

Some liberal Zionist groups preferred to remain silent. The Jewish Labour Movement did not reply to a request to comment on Hotovely’s expansionist vision and her arrival in the UK.

LFI did not reply to a request for comment in August asking if they would be working as closely with Hotovely as with previous ambassadors.

In 2017 it was revealed that the group is effectively a front for the embassy and that its leaders speak to embassy agents “most days.”

Liberal Zionists Yachad UK did not reply to a request for comment.

They tweeted in June that they “look forward to conveying to Mrs [sic] Hotovely the high level of concern in this community about a potential unilateral annexation of West Bank territory,” at the same time claiming that the British “public and Jewish community are supportive” of Israel.

Meanwhile, other right-wing activists were happy with Hotovely’s appointment.

Tory activists Nimco Ali and Ella Robertson both welcomed her.

Ali appeared at the Conservative Party’s virtual conference on Sunday, in discussion with health secretary Matt Hancock.

Asked on Twitter if she endorsed Hotovely’s racist views, Ali declined to comment.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada; he lives in London