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Israel apologises over plot to ‘take down’ UK MPs

Houses of the Parliament, UK
Houses of the Parliament, UK

Israel’s embassy in London issued an apology to Britain’s foreign minister Sunday, after one of its political officers was secretly filmed by an Al Jazeera investigation team last year revealing plots to destroy the careers of senior British politicians.

The comments by a senior officer from the embassy, Shai Masot, suggested that the then chief of staff of the deputy chairman of the ruling Conservative Party “take down” British lawmakers including Foreign Minister Alan Duncan, who has been critical of the Israeli state’s resettlement policies in the occupied West Bank.

In the footage revealed Friday, Masot was filmed in October 2016 dining with Maria Strizzolo – deputy Conservative chairman Robert Halfon’s chief of staff – in a London restaurant as part of a six-month long investigation by Qatar-based Al Jazeera.

Strizzolo is seen suggesting “a little scandal” might cause the dismissal of Duncan after Masot asked her if he could give her some names of MPs he would suggest she “take down”.

In the footage, Masot also described British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as an “idiot without any kind of responsibilities”.

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The embassy said in a press release it “rejects the remarks concerning Minister Duncan, which are completely unacceptable”.

It added that “the comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly.”

Al Jazeera has said it will broadcast from Jan. 15 the many findings of its probe in a four-part series called The Lobby, showing Israel’s efforts to influence British politics, and that the Masot disclosure was just one of the findings.

Duncan has previously launched an attack on Israel’s conduct in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and on the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2014, which ended in a non-binding parliamentary motion recognising Palestinian statehood.

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