Campaign launched to block Israeli settlements minister as ambassador to UK

Staunch annexation supporter Tzipi Hotovely has confirmed she will accept position as next Israeli ambassador in London

A view taken on February 3, 2017 of the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP
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A British Jewish organisation has launched a campaign to block the appointment of Israeli Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely as ambassador to the UK.

Ms Hotovely, a religious nationalist and member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, has confirmed she will accept the position speaking on Israeli Army Radio.

As settlements minister, she has campaigned vigorously for annexation and is vehemently opposed to the two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

She has also caused controversy with a string of statements about Palestinians, Jerusalem and human rights activists working in the region.

Her appointment has enraged the UK’s Jewish residents as the international community focuses on Israel and its plans to annex swathes of the West Bank and other areas that Palestinians consider part of a potential future state.

Israelis protest against West Bank annexation

Israelis protest against West Bank annexation

The group British Jews Against Occupation has launched an online petition, calling on the UK government to reject Ms Hotovely’s nomination as an ambassador. “As British Jews we are clear: Tzipi Hotovely’s values and politics have no place in the UK,” the group has said.

The liberal British Jewish group Yachad has also responded with hostility to the outspoken politician’s new role.

Ms Hotovely’s appointment coincides with an open letter written to the current Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regev, from 40 leading Jewish figures denouncing Israel’s annexation plans.

Sir Ben Helfgott, one of Britain’s most famous Holocaust survivors, the historian Sir Simon Schama and the former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind were among those who signed the open letter.

“It would in our view be a pyrrhic victory intensifying Israel’s political, diplomatic and economic challenges without yielding any tangible benefit,” the letter read.

“It would have grave consequences for the Palestinian people most obviously. Israel’s international standing would also suffer and it is incompatible with the notion of Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state.”

Normally, Ms Hotovely’s acceptance by the UK would be a formality.  However there is precedent for a rejection. In 2015 Brazil refused to accept pro-settlement leader Dani Dayan as ambassador. The position of the UK government, as with the majority of the international community, is that Israel’s designs on annexation are illegal.

Britain and the EU have cautioned Mr Netanyahu against the annexation pledges, which the Israeli leader reiterated a number of times in recent months. With the US giving the green light to the plans, however, it remains unclear how it will react to annexation.