Boris Johnson rejects calls to punish Israeli plot to 'take down' MP

#IsraelLobby

British foreign minister reiterates that matter of Shai Masot's plot is 'closed' amid growing dissent in ruling Conservatives

Johnson was challenged in the Commons over the government response to the scandal (AFP)
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Tuesday 10 January 2017 17:52 UTC
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Boris Johnson has rejected calls to take disciplinary action against the Israeli embassy in London after one of its diplomats was caught plotting to "take down" UK politicians he regarded as hostile to his country.

The British foreign secretary told the House of Commons on Tuesday that Shai Masot was no longer in London, and that the Israeli embassy had issued a full apology. The matter, he said, was closed - a parroting of the foreign office's original statement on the scandal on Saturday evening.

Masot, who described himself as the Israeli embassy's "political officer", was filmed by an undercover reporter in October telling a UK government staffer that he wished to "take down" the deputy foreign secretary, Alan Duncan - a vocal critic of Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

On Tuesday Conservative MPs including Hugo Swire challenged Johnson to explain why the government considered the "matter closed".

Peter Oborne: Johnson says matter is 'closed'. He's wrong - it's a scandal

Swire said the British ambassador to Israel was summoned when the UK backed a UN resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements, yet no comparable action had been taken when an Israeli embassy employee “is caught on film conspiring with a civil servant to take down a senior minister".

Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party's foreign affairs spokesman, said any UK diplomat caught making such threats in Tel Aviv would be booted out.

The SNP and Labour have already called for a full inquiry into the scandal at the Israeli embassy, which Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry called a "national security issue".