Israel has appointed controversial Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely as its new ambassador to the UK. The Likud politician, who has peddled the racist claim that there are “no Palestinian people”, will take over from Mark Regev later this summer.
Speaking about her appointment, Hotovely is reported in the Jewish Chronicle saying: “It is undoubtedly one of the most senior positions in the foreign service. Within Europe, Britain is terribly important and very friendly [to Israel], certainly under [Prime Minister Boris] Johnson, that is something we have to leverage and do important diplomatic work on.”
The choice of Hotovely for what is seen as a crucial post in Israel’s global outreach to justify its ongoing colonisation of Palestine is likely to worry pro-Israel groups in the UK. The 41-year-old is an outspoken supporter of the settler movement. Her views on Palestine and her belief in the idea of a greater Israel threatens to undermine the progressive anti-racist image of Israel, carefully constructed over the decades.
The incoming Israeli ambassador’s anti-Palestinian views are so extreme that even the Board of Deputies of British Jews, a staunch supporter of Israel, do not see eye to eye with her. Last month, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board, urged disgruntled members of the British Jewish community to continue backing Israel, despite its planned annexation of 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank next month.
According to the JC Hotovely launched an outspoken attack on the Board of Deputies over its support for a Palestinian state in its 2019 Jewish Manifesto. She accused the Board of failing to consult “Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our ambassador, any other political authority” ahead of the manifesto’s release.
Hotovely was appointed Israel’s deputy foreign minister in 2015. She has 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.
In remarks that dehumanised Palestinians, Hotovely said that the West Bank belongs to Israel alone and that there was “no Palestinian people recognized in the world”. Such racist views have made her an embarrassment and a liability to pro-Israeli groups in Europe. In 2017 her talk at Princeton University was cancelled following a petition by a student group called the Alliance of Jewish Progressives.
With the post requiring approval from the UK Foreign Office, right-wing anti-Palestinians, anticipating a backlash against Hotovely’s appointment, have launched a petition urging the British government to welcome her as the new Israeli ambassador.