Disgraced Israeli agent Shai Masot attended minister’s secret London meeting

Shai Masot, the Israeli agent whose “cover” in the UK was “well and truly blown” by an Al Jazeera investigation.

The Israeli agent caught plotting to “take down” UK lawmakers accompanied a leading Israeli minister during his visit to London last year, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

Shai Masot, the agent, accompanied Gilad Erdan, the minister, during private discussions with Conservative Friends of Israel – a pressure group inside the ruling UK party.

Proof of the meeting is contained in an Israeli government document translated by The Electronic Intifada. It undermines Erdan’s claim in January that Masot had “no connection to my ministry.”

Supposedly a “senior political adviser” at the Israeli embassy, Masot was forced to leave London early this year after an undercover Al Jazeera documentary revealed he had been plotting to “take down” a senior government minister deemed critical of Israel.

British foreign minister Boris Johnson told Parliament that Masot’s “cover” had been “well and truly blown.”

According to Erdan’s official ministerial diary, he and Masot met Conservative Friends of Israel’s executive director James Gurd for an “unofficial” lunch meeting at Parliament on 6 September 2016.

Neither Erdan nor Gurd replied to requests for comment.

Eitan Na’eh, then Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UK, also took part in the lunch.

The lightly-redacted diary was obtained thanks to a freedom of information request by Israeli consumer rights group Hatzlaha. The entry mentioning Masot was first highlighted on Hebrew Twitter by Israeli activist Noam Rotem.

Rotem told The Electronic Intifada that the entry constituted proof that Masot was one of Erdan’s people in London.

The secretive meeting took place shortly before a separate one that Erdan held in Parliament to brief both Conservative and Labour lawmakers from their respective “friends of Israel” groups.

At that second meeting was Stuart Polak, Conservative Friends of Israel’s leading lobbyist and fundraiser, and a member of the UK’s unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords.

Gilad Erdan’s diary records a “meeting with Sir Erick Pickles, Lord Stewart Polak [both of Conservative Friends of Israel] and [all-party] MP Friends of Israel” in Parliament.

Polak came under the spotlight in November, after the BBC revealed that, against UK government rules, he had arranged secretive meetings with Erdan and other Israeli ministers for the UK’s then development minister Priti Patel this summer.

Patel, a former spin doctor for one of the world’s largest public relations firms, was forced to resign after it emerged she had not declared the meetings with her own department.

The release of Erdan’s diary confirms earlier reporting, in the Al Jazeera documentary, The Lobby, that Masot had been working closely with Erdan’s ministry to set up a front company in London to undermine campaigners for Palestinian human rights.

In undercover footage, which you can watch in the video above, Masot said that Erdan’s ministry had asked him to work with them on “establishing … a new private company that basically will work for the Israeli government.”

The front company would be “an office of 20 people” which would work with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and pro-Israel pressure groups within the UK’s two largest parties, he said.

Erdan, a long-standing ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, oversees Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

In 2015, the ministry was given the leading role in Israel’s fight against the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns to hold Israel to account for its human rights abuses.

His ministry has a budget of more than $40 million to “battle” the global movement for Palestinian human rights, and is staffed and led by former Israeli spies.

The ministry is behind a global “black-ops” war against the Palestine solidarity movement.

Veteran Israeli security journalist Yossi Melman last year revealed that this had included email hacking, harassment and death threats targeting Palestinian lawyers in The Hague, who are working to bring Israeli war crimes in front of the International Criminal Court.

With translation and research by Dena Shunra.

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Putin only wishes he had such 'support' from such 'helpers'. And that he could be so effective.

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don't give up hope, the world is watching lets recall the words of ex Arch-bishop of South Africa. Desmond Tutu in time of injustice we decide to remain silent. we have taken to the side of the oppressor. we are outrage over the political right decision in America. Jerusalem is capital city of Palestine

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.