Israel’s London embassy apologizes after staffer says he wants to ‘take down’ lawmakers

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Israeli embassy in London has apologized after a political officer on staff was recorded saying he wanted to “take down” several British politicians who he deemed unfriendly to Israel.

The comments were made to a former aide to a British Conservative lawmaker during a meeting to discuss how to discredit anti-Israel lawmakers at a London restaurant, and filmed by an Al-Jazeera journalist posing as a pro-Israel activist, according to reports in the British and Israeli media.

The embassy employee was identified as Shai Masot, who is described by the embassy as a junior employee. Masot said Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan was causing “a lot of problems,” and called former London Mayor Boris Johnson “an idiot.”

“The Embassy of Israel rejects the remarks concerning Minister Duncan, which are completely unacceptable; the comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly,” a spokesman said in a statement.

Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev, personally apologized to British Deputy Foreign Minister Alan Duncan, one of the Biritsh politicians named by Masot.

“The Israeli ambassador has apologized and it is clear these comments do not reflect the views of the Embassy or the Government of Israel. The U.K. has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement.

The Al-Jazeera reporter went undercover as a pro-Israel activist from June 2016 to November 2016 and recorded conversations of pro-Israel activists, British politicians and Israeli embassy staff.

The recordings are the centerpiece of four half-hour documentaries titled “The Lobby” that al-Jazeera is scheduled to broadcast starting January 15.

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