Israel’s next UK ambassador is a settler extremist

Tzipi Hotovely (second from left holding flag) leading a settler demonstration calling for the annexation of the Palestinian West Bank last month. (Women in Green/YouTube)

Israel’s next ambassador to the UK is a pro-settler activist who has promoted the movement to destroy Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Tzipi Hotovely once claimed that there is “no Palestinian people.”

A 41-year-old extremist, she openly states that Palestinians deserve less rights than Jews. She tries to justify her bigotry using an explictly religious Zionist ideology.

Her years of dedication to the settler “sovereignty” movement have now finally paid off. Before her appointment to the London post was announced, she became Israel’s first minister for settlements.

That gives her responsibility for preparing Israel’s annexation of a significant proportion of the West Bank.

During a struggle over Israel’s plans to demolish the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar, Hotovely smeared it as an “illegal Bedouin outpost” and demanded it be destroyed.

Using a typical colonialist smokescreen, Hotovely urged that “we need to remove this community after giving them an alternative.”

After an immense struggle by the villagers to remain on their land, the Israeli destruction of Khan al-Ahmar was postponed last year, under international pressure.

“No Palestinian people”

An activist in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, Hotovely will spend a few months founding Israel’s new settlements ministry before moving to the UK, Israeli media have reported.

The ministry is being established to implement Israel’s plan to annex as much as a third of Palestinian land in the West Bank next month.

She is expected to arrive in the UK this summer, when the current ambassador Mark Regev is reportedly leaving.

Hotovely has for years been campaigning for the annexation of the entire West Bank and claims that it, along with present-day Israel, belongs to Jews alone.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a war crime.

Hotovely was appointed Israel’s deputy foreign minister in 2015. She recently boasted at a conference in Jerusalem that, since taking up that post, she has transformed Israel’s foreign ministry into a bastion of the settler right, which is moving Israel towards annexation.

“All the territory that is west of the Jordan River can only be [held] by one nation: the Jewish people,” she said.

She has also said that the West Bank belongs to Israel alone and that there was “no Palestinian people recognized in the world.”

In 2017 she screamed at Palestinian lawmakers in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that they had no history, waving an empty-paged book with the title A History of the Palestinian People on its cover.

“Do you know this book? I will read a few choice excerpts” she said, before theatrically revealing its blank leaves: “Friends and fellow Knesset members, this book is empty!”

“This land is ours. All of it is ours”

She made headlines after a 2015 speech to civil servants marking her arrival at the foreign ministry, when she invoked religious texts to claim that the entirety of historic Palestine belongs to Jews alone – what she has termed the “Greater Land of Israel.”

“This land is ours,” she said. “All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologize for that.”

Hotovely also claimed the right to expel Palestinians and build homes for Jews on the stolen land, demanding the world “recognize Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere.”

Israel has been clear that – after annexation – it will not grant the Palestinians living in those lands any citizenship rights.

The annexation plan is being pushed by Israel’s new Likud-Blue and White-Labor coalition government, which wants to complete the annexation ahead of November’s US presidential election in case their supporter Donald Trump loses.

Extremist

Even by Israeli standards, Hotovely is an extremist.

The announcement that she will be Israel’s next ambassador has also raised some opposition among Zionists in the UK, who worry she will damage Israel’s image.

Writing for The Jewish News, Jenni Frazer described her appointment as an insult to the UK and warned that she would “alienate so many British Jews” from Israel.

Even Melanie Philips, a hard-right Islamophobe and columnist for The Times, opposes Hotovely’s appointment as ambassador, worrying that she sounds “to a British ear like a blustering zealot.”

But Hotovely’s rise has been almost 15 years in the making.

Her political career began in earnest after she appeared as a panelist on Israeli TV in 2006. She used the appearance to voice support for Israel’s bombing of Lebanon that year – an attack which killed approximately 1,200 people.

That caught the attention of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu – who was then in opposition. He personally recruited her to join his party and to run for the Knesset in 2008.

Entering Israel’s parliament after the Likud victory the following year, she immediately began using her position as a lawmaker in the ruling party to agitate for the rights of Jewish settlers in the West Bank to displace and oppress Palestinians.

Support for settler crimes

In 2012, for example, she expressed support for a group of Jewish extremists in the Palestinian city of Hebron who had broken into and stolen a Palestinian family’s home.

The settlers’ patently false claim to have purchased the building from its Palestinian owners was years later ruled by an Israeli court to be without basis.

But Hotovely already had instantly justified the blatant theft of Palestinian homes using Bible stories.

“This is the Jewish homeland. This the first land where David the King started his kingship,” she said in an interview with the Hebron Fund, a group of settlers.

The house “must remain under Israeli – I would call it sovereignty,” she insisted.

Hotovely pretended to be concerned over the supposed illegality of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar due to it being allegedly established “without getting permission from the Israeli authorities.” Yet her commitment to planning permission has magically evaporated when Israelis have engaged in unauthorized building activities.

Asked in that 2012 interview to confirm that the Hebron settlers “don’t need approval of the government” she replied: “Absolutely … it’s about a free market and the free right of a Jew to live everywhere.”

In the years since, she has used her ministerial positions to mobilize support for theft and murder by settlers in a similar fashion.

More recently she addressed a demonstration of the Women in Green extremist group, saying she came “in support of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria” – using Biblical terminology for the West Bank.

Jewish extremist

She has also lent her support to a Jewish extremist group that aims to destroy Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

In a speech to supporters of the Temple Institute in 2017, Hotovely called on them to enter the mosque compound – Islam’s third holiest site.

She has also supported the work of Lehava, a government-funded anti-miscegenation group which terrorizes those who engage in marriages and relationships between Arabs and Jews. She has argued that it was important to “prevent mixed marriages, and Lehava are the most suitable [group] for this.”

Speaking to a US pro-Israel lobby group in 2017, she attacked American Jews for marrying non-Jews: “American Jews are losing it big time. I see the numbers, I’m in the foreign ministry: 80 percent of American Jews assimilate.”

As such an open advocate of Zionist settler-colonialism and racism, Tzipi Hotovely will be a true representative of the state of Israel in the UK.

Hotovely did not reply to a request for comment.

Correction: The video of the recent settler demonstration in fact shows Hotovely calling for “Israeli sovereignty” in the West Bank. Women in Green’s English subtitles have her as saying “Jewish sovereignty,” but this is not a strictly correct translation. Hebrew translation by Dena Shunra.

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Who was Abraham? What archaeological evidence is there for his existence? If people want to believe in him, there can be no objection. Freedom of belief must be absolute. But if I believe the sun orbits the earth and insist others do too, I'm required to provide evidence. Hotovely's religious rhetoric goes to the heart of the issue: no one can lay claim to any part of the earth in 2020 on the grounds that their ancestors lived on it 5,000 years ago. No one can prove they are descended from anyone around at that time. Believing you are is fine. It's a belief, not a fact. Making it a fact and laying claim to territory on its basis is intellectually hollow. And if the argument is: this land belongs to us because our forbears lived here 5,000 years ago, what about the people who lived there 10,000 or 40,000 years ago? The trek out of Africa began some c 70,000 years ago. What today we call the Middle East was inhabited 40,000 years ago. What is going on is classic confusion of realms: religion is belief, not fact. The right to religious freedom is fundamental, but it doesn't include laying claim to territory on the basis of belief. Zionists attack the Enlightenment because its from there we derive our modern ideas about rights and responsibilities. Title to land is a legal, not a religious matter. The Palestinians can't wave their title deeds under god's nose. Nor does a judge refer to the Bible when deciding a boundary dispute. It is this confounding of religion and law which sits at the centre of the Zionists' false claim to Palestine. Gandhi was right: Palestine belongs to the Palestinians like England to the English. No biblical verses would convince a British judge that any acre of Britain belongs to anyone without legal title. That is the point: Palestinians with legal title were robbed of their land. Religion is an entirely extraneous matter. Except in the wilfully distorted thinking of Zionists.

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She is a perfect choice & I think will represent the Zionist point of view with enough clarity for sane people to support BDS even more. I think having extremists in those types of position is only going to strengthen BDS and expose the Israel Firsters in the British establishment. ... since there are enough of them.
And we must not forget BDS in Britain is pretty ballsy. The Labour Party not. And Israel is totally out of control.

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Well, for anyone wondering what sort of scoundrel could top Regev as Israel's Ambassador to the UK, it looks like we're about to find out. Britons may now expect a renewal of the "antisemitism" campaign of lies, smears and fully complicit journalism when the formal and quite illegal annexation of much of West Bank is announced. All who object will be sprayed with foul-smelling accusations, as racist, terror-supporting enemies of humanity, and under the new IHRA definition may be subject to prosecution, job loss, and other penalties. Hotovely lacks the calm, emollient demeanor displayed by Regev, and her task will be to stridently defend Israel in its hour of peril, ie the completion of yet another grave criminal act. In comparison to his successor, Regev was a stiletto. Hotovely is a hammer. Or, as suggested in my heading, a Skunk truck rolling into your media village.

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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.