Israeli embassy employee quits over plot to ‘bring down’ UK lawmakers

Israeli embassy employee quits over plot to ‘bring down’ UK lawmakers

Shai Masot resigns after being covertly filmed conspiring to weaken MPs perceived as unfriendly to Israel

Israeli Embassy in UK worker Shai Masot filmed secretly in January 2017 (Screen capture: YouTube)
Israeli Embassy in UK worker Shai Masot filmed secretly in January 2017 (Screen capture: YouTube)

An employee at Israel’s embassy in Britain resigned a few days after he was caught on film conspiring to discredit British politicians.

Shai Masot was filmed by an undercover reporter for al-Jazeera conspiring to “take down” certain MPs — notably Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan — who were perceived as unfriendly to Israel. The footage was published Sunday in British media.

The Foreign Ministry said Thursday that his resignation was offered two days ago in response to the exposé.

Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev apologized for Masot’s actions and made it clear that the remarks made in the video about UK lawmakers were “unacceptable.”

“The Embassy of Israel rejects the remarks concerning Minister Duncan, which are completely unacceptable; 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,” spokesman Yiftah Curiel wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account Sunday.

Ambassador Regev on Friday spoke with Minister Duncan, apologized for the comments and made clear that the embassy considered the remarks to be completely unacceptable,” Curiel wrote.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “the Israeli ambassador has apologized and is clear that these comments do not reflect the views of the Embassy or the Government of Israel. The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”

Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed it had received an apology, and that it now considered “the matter closed.”

The heavily edited video, dated October 26, 2016 (with a separate portion at the end dated September 25, 2016), was recorded by an undercover reporter and showed Masot asking Maria Strizzolo, a political operator for the Conservative MP Robert Halfon, whether he can list to her “some MPs that I would suggest you would take down.”

He then specifies that he means Duncan, “the deputy foreign minister,” who is on record supporting Palestinian statehood.

Duncan was “doing a lot of problems,” he added.

British Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan (courtesy)
British Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan (courtesy)

“I thought we had, you know, neutralized him just a little bit, no?” Strizzolo replies, to which Masot says, “No.”

During the conversation, the two discuss a “hit list” of politicians that they ostensibly intend to discredit, naming, among others, Crispin Blunt, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons, whom Masot describes as “strongly pro-Arab rather than pro-Israel.”

The nature of Masot’s official role wasn’t immediately clear. While the embassy reportedly described him as a junior official rather than a diplomat, the title listed on his LinkedIn page is “senior political officer.”

In his job description there, he says he is the “chief point of contact between Embassy and Members of Parliament,” and that he is involved in “liaising with ministers and officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office” and “developing and promoting strategic partnerships with political contacts of the Embassy: senior British/Israeli Government officials as well as non-government stakeholders.”

read more: