An influential parliamentary committee will investigate an Israeli embassy plot to “take down” a UK government minister.
The chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee said on Sunday that disgraced Israeli embassy senior political officer Shai Masot’s discussion of a “hit list” of MPs was “interference in British politics of the murkiest kind.”
Crispin Blunt, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Theresa May’s ruling Conservative Party, told the Mail on Sunday that “I hope to include this matter in the committee’s wider inquiry into the Middle East peace process.”
After undercover footage revealed the plot, Masot was swiftly thrown under the bus. He was sent back to Israel and fired from his government position.
The footage also shows Masot calling Johnson an “idiot.”
Speaking to UK civil servant Maria Strizzolo, Masot said he wanted to “take down” Johnson’s number two in the Foreign Office, Alan Duncan.
Duncan has been critical of Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements, which are colonizing Palestinian land.
Blunt too was named on the “hit list” of MPs Masot said he wanted to discredit. Strizzolo suggested arranging “a little scandal.”
The undercover footage was taken by a reporter working for Al Jazeera, and features in part four of the ground-breaking film The Lobby.
The film is airing all week on Al Jazeera and can be watched in the video above.
Former Conservative minister Nicholas Soames vowed on Sunday that “Israel has not heard the last of this.”
Soames told the Mail that the UK should “make it very clear indeed to Mr. Netanyahu and his government that we will not tolerate this kind of outrageous behavior.”
He said that Netanyahu would not have tolerated a British diplomat doing this in Israel and “has to be made to understand he cannot do it here either.”
Israel’s “useful idiots”
Although the Conservative government strongly supports Israel, and most Tory MPs are part of Conservative Friends of Israel, the Shai Masot scandal has led to growing discontent in the party.
Conservative lawmaker Hugo Swire criticized Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last week for too easily accepting the ambassador’s apology as having “closed” the matter.
Speaking in Parliament, Swire accused Masot of “conspiring with a British civil servant to take down a senior minister.”
A minister who served under previous prime minister David Cameron, wrote in last week’s Mail on Sunday that “people in the Conservative and Labour Parties have been working with the Israeli embassy which has used them to demonize and trash MPs who criticize Israel; an army of Israel’s useful idiots in Parliament.”
On Friday, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, wrote to Prime Minister May to demand an investigation.
“Many members of Parliament and the public will be extremely concerned at this evidence of attempts to undermine the integrity of our democracy,” Corbyn wrote.
“This is clearly a national security issue,” Corbyn added. “I would therefore ask that you treat the matter as such and launch an inquiry into the extent of this improper interference.”
Much of The Lobby focuses on the Israeli government’s efforts to shore up its significant but waning influence in the Labour Party.
This is often done via front organizations such as Labour Friends of Israel.