Incoming ambassador to UK called for “expanding” Israel’s borders

Israel’s incoming ambassador to the UK has called for “expanding” Israel into neighboring Arab countries, a video of an old speech shows.

In it, Tzipi Hotovely expressed her preference for right-wing Zionist anthem “Two Banks to the Jordan,” a Hebrew song which in 1929 laid claim to the entirety of Palestine and what became the state of Jordan.

Having earlier in the speech criticized some Israeli politicians for the “mentality that doesn’t look 20 years ahead,” she articulated her vision for what she has called Greater Israel.

She explained in the speech: “We must not settle for preserving what exists. We must always look forward and ask ourselves: What do we want for the next generation? Do we want to see our enemies continuing the Islamic revolution on our eastern frontline? Or do we want to see the state of Israel expanding?”

The song’s chorus goes: “Two banks has the [River] Jordan / This is ours and that is as well” before continuing in a verse exclaiming: “Let my right hand whither / If I forget the East Bank of the Jordan.”

Hotovely went on in her speech to imply that the “expanding” of Israel should also include Syria: “if only those people in Syria had a little bit of the rights that Israeli Arabs have.”

You can watch her comments above, or see video of the full speech below.

“Expanding” into Syria

The Irgun logo. The militia laid claim to the entirety of Palestine and Jordan. (Wikipedia)

As well as dismaying Syrians, the suggestion by Israel’s next UK ambassador that she would like to see Israel “expanding” on both sides of the River Jordan will also alarm Jordanians – at least half of whom are the descendants of Palestinian refugees expelled by Zionist forces in 1947 and since.

Israel already occupies a large tract of Syrian land – the Golan Heights, which it illegally annexed in 1980.

When Israel invaded in 1967, they drove out more than 95 percent of the population of the Golan – 130,000 Syrians – and systematically destroyed hundreds of villages and one city.

Since then, the refugees have been blocked by Israel from returning, while around 23,000 Israeli settlers now dominate the occupied territory.

Despite Hotovely’s claims, the remaining Syrians in the occupied Golan Heights today are still not treated with equality.

“Discriminatory Israeli policies continue to violate the basic human rights of Syrians who have become second-class citizens in the land of their birth,” the Syrian human rights group Al-Marsad says.

Hotovely gave her speech in 2012, addressing a radical group of West Bank settlers called the “Women in Green” at a conference at a settlement in Hebron.

“Jordan is a historic compromise”

One year later, as a junior minister, she told a Likud Party event that “the existence of [the state of] Jordan is a historic compromise” and that “whoever believes in the Greater Land of Israel has never been prepared to give parts of our homeland away for any purpose, not even for peace.”

A petition by British Jews launched in June calling for the UK to reject Hotovely as ambassador now has almost 1,900 signatures.

Although she was confirmed by the Israeli cabinet in August, current minister for settlements Hotovely is yet to be formally accepted by the UK government.

The evening after this article was published, the embassy announced on Twitter that Hotovely had arrived as “ambassador designate.”

The last ambassador, Mark Regev, left the UK in June and the deputy ambassador has been serving as chargée d’affaires since. Regev returned to his position at the Israeli prime minister’s office in August.

Asked if she stood by the speech, Tzipi Hotovely and the Israeli embassy did not reply to requests for comment.

“Two Banks to the Jordan” was written by Vladamir “Zeev” Jabotinsky, the founder of right-wing Zionism and the ideological grandfather of the ruling Likud Party to which both Hotovely and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu belong.

The logo of the Irgun militia founded by Jabotinsky includes a map of the entirety of Palestine and Jordan.

In her speech, Hotovely advocated for the right-wing Zionist anthem over another Hebrew song, “For All These Things,” by songwriter Naomi Shemer. The latter song’s most famous line urged: “Don’t uproot what’s been planted”.

The song became an anthem for settlers evicted from the illegal colony of Yamit when the Israeli occupation of Egypt’s Sinai ended in 1982.

But for Hotovely, it seems, refraining from “uprooting what’s planted” is not enough to satisfy her vision of an expanding Greater Israel.

Hebrew translations by David Sheen, with contributions from Dena Shunra.

Updated after publication.




Some diplomat. What Orwellian twisting of language is necessary to apply the term to such a benighted ideologue. Should she be accepted as ambassador, we must not lose the opportunity to expose the expansionism of the Israeli State and its bad faith over the two-States solution. She may turn out to be our best argument. No on should be surprised however. This is Ben-Gurion in 1949: "The boundaries of Zionist aspiration are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them." Note the use of the benign term "aspiration" to mean "colonialism". Note also the identity of "Zionist" and "the Jewish people", a commonplace example of Zionist anti-Semitism ie all Jewish people are the same, they can all be subsumed to the same one-dimensional category. Note the term "the Jewish people" as if there is such a thing. The French people are citizens of France should they be Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists. What exactly does "the Jewish people" mean? Citizens of Israel? Obviously not. A racial category? A religious category? Zionist language is always characterised by these confusions and sleights-of-hand. What is consistent is the underlying totalitarianism - there is only one "Jewish" view and any dissenter is not "Jewish" - and threat of violence. Israel is a State established by violence. Not unusual. So is the USA. The difference is the Palestinians can regain their homeland and their rights, the native Americans were all but wiped out. The Israelis want rid of the Palestinians one way or another, but as their implied message forever says, they want much more. As Ben-Gurion said and as Jabotinsky believed, Zionism will set the limits it likes whatever anyone else thinks. And, as ever, the misuse of the Nazi genocide is employed as the excuse for every Israeli abuse. Hotovely is proposing invasion of a sovereign State. Diplomat? Imperialist rather.


Can you imagine what the world would be like if every state, Country & even a people like the Kurds had aspirating to political power of excluding the native inhabitants from their homes for 1000s of years. Now imagine these invaders with nuclear weapons.

The clock never sleeps nor do the dreams of those that think they're entitled to take from others for themselves without compensation or consent.

Asa Winstanley

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Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).