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Benjamin Netanyahu | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin Netanyahu | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Theresa May is up to her neck in the old business of ignoring Israeli crimes, argues Kara Bryan

Theresa May’s quick canter through meetings with some of the most authoritarian figures on the world stage began with the public embarrassment of holding hands with Bigot-in-Chief, Donald Trump, through arms dealing with Turkey’s President Erdogan,and ended a few days later playing Renfield to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Count Dracula during his visit to Downing Street.

The Prime Minister’s timing is impeccable, rolling out the red carpet for a notorious war criminal, just as the Israeli police look set to indict him on corruption charges. Not to mention that his visit coincided with Israeli F16s launching a deadly onslaught of incursions on the Gaza Strip, and the Knesset passing contentious retroactive land-grab legislation legalising the theft of Palestinian land. And to top it all off, the Foreign Office refused a petition calling for an inquiry into the Israel lobby scandal.

As Theresa May was busy cosying up to the Israeli premier, in a galaxy not so far, far away in the land of Occupied Palestine, the inhabitants of the blockaded Gaza Strip were bombarded with nineteen air strikes and a barrage of artillery shells on his orders. An attack on Rafah City in the south killed two civilians, Hussam Soufi, 24, and Mohamed Arqa, 38, injuring at least five others.

The recent onslaught has received almost no mainstream media coverage. The Israeli army claimed its Iron Dome missile defence system had intercepted 3 rockets. No Israeli casualties were reported but Israel retaliated, as it always does whenever rockets are alleged to have been fired over Israeli borders, with collective punishment on Gaza’s inhabitants. Palestinians are routinely murdered by the IDF, harassed at checkpoints, deprived of electricity, shot at, detained without due cause other than being Palestinian, while the settlers steal their land, burn their crops and mow down their children.

In recent weeks Israel has approved 181 new settlement units and more recently in a retroactive land grab Bill, dubbed the ‘expropriation Bill’ the Knesset has legalised the theft of privately-owned Palestinian land in order to ‘regulate settlement… and allow its continued establishment and development’ until such time as ‘there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories’ effectively allowing Jewish settlers to remain on the land until such time as the international community intervenes.

Since the Bill passed through the Knesset, there has been a rise in attacks on Palestinian land. In the last few days, settlers took over Palestinian property south of al Aqsa escorted by police and in Nablus, Palestinian farmers were violently assaulted while the occupation army demolished buildings and carried out drills using live ammunition. Theresa May predictably failed to raise the issue of illegal settlements with the Israeli Prime Minister during his visit. After all what’s a little land theft between friends?

The British establishment is so closely allied with the rogue state that the Foreign Office’s response to a petition demanding an inquiry into the extent of Israeli influence on British politics,following the explosive Al Jazeera documentary,should come as little surprise:

The UK is a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation between our two countries across a range of fields… We are continuing to deepen and advance our links with Israel… It is clear that in this case, these remarks can only be attributed to one person. The Israeli Ambassador has apologised and explained that the comments made do not reflect the views of the Embassy or Government of Israel. The Embassy has informed us that the official has resigned from his position at the Israeli Embassy and left the UK. The UK therefore considers this matter closed.

The individual in question, Shai Masot, is an ex-Major in the Israeli Navy and a senior officer in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. He was secretly filmed conspiring to subvert the democratic process by submitting pre-written Bills to British politicians sympathetic to Israel, smearing a pro-Palestinian government minister, and attempting to bribe politicians and officials with large sums of money and all-expenses paid trips to the Holy Land.

The official explanation was that Masot was merely one of the Israeli Embassy’s ‘technical and administrative staff.’ This explanation simply doesn’t hold water. Most embassies have no more than two or three administrative staff and it is abundantly clear from the Al Jazeera footage that Masot was operating on a much higher level.

The Israeli Embassy has no fewer than seventeen technical and administrative staff meaning the Foreign Office has granted seventeen visas, so is fully aware how many staff there are in the Embassy. They can’t all be typists.The extent of Israel’s links with the British political establishment and its unrestricted remit is alarming and the Foreign office’s response is wholly inadequate given the damning implications of the the Al Jazeera exposé.

Masot was demonstrably acting as an intelligence operative not an administrative official but the Foreign Office accepted the Israeli Ambassador’s explanation at face value without due investigation. This is very telling about our relationship with Israel and the British government’s policy of turning a blind eye to its settlements policy and appalling record on human rights.

Benyamin Netanyahu has been interviewed by Israeli police three times and is expected to be interviewed again before a recommendation of indictment is made. This is expected in the next 6 weeks according to Israel’s Channel 2. He is the subject of multiple investigations for bribery and corruption. Investigators are also examining allegations that he accepted 1 million Euros during his 2009 election campaign from a French businessman, currently serving time for tax fraud.

If Prime Minister Netanyahu is indicted, no doubt Theresa May and the rest of the right-wing political establishment will express their shock and horror, that he is the innocent victim of an elaborate smear campaign and feign ignorance of his culpability in the mistreatment of the Palestinian population. That is the Israeli modus operandi. As Voltaire said, ‘to learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.’

Kara Bryan

Kara Bryan

Kara Bryan is a writer and activist and regular contributor to the Counterfire website. She is a member of Counterfire and Stop the War

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