UK government criticises efforts to ‘silence’ Israeli ambassador

Protesters hurled abuse at Tzipi Hotovely outside event in London

The British government has condemned abuse aimed at Israel’s ambassador in London, after protesters at an event she was speaking at.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We in Britain believe in freedom of speech.”

She said the treatment of Tzipi Hotovely “and the attempt to silence her was unacceptable”.

The ambassador had been invited to speak at an event called Israel’s Perspective: A New Era in the Middle East, which was organised by the debating society of the London School of Economics.

The group of protesters, one carrying a Palestinian flag, booed Ms Hotovely as she was rushed into a car by aides. One activist shouted: “Aren’t you ashamed?”

Palestinian groups at LSE had earlier criticised the invitation of the ambassador and said her involvement was “platforming racism”.

Ms Hotovely’s treatment was condemned by the UK’s Middle East minister James Cleverly, who described “the aggressive and threatening behaviour” as “unacceptable”.

Nadhim Zahawi, the Baghdad-born UK Education Secretary, apologised for the abuse and said it was “deeply disturbing”.

Lisa Nandy, foreign affairs spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, said: “There is no excuse for this kind of behaviour.

“Freedom of speech is a fundamental right and any attempt to silence or intimidate those we disagree with should never be tolerated.”

Ms Hotovely is a member of Likud, the party of former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Updated: November 10th 2021, 12:46 PM