Boris Johnson says matter of Israel embassy plot is ‘closed’. He’s wrong – it’s a scandal

An Israeli diplomat tried to undermine a UK minister, and government did nothing. Were he Russian, the response would have been explosive

By Peter Oborne
9 January 2017

Let’s try a mental experiment. Let’s imagine that the Russian embassy had been caught red-handed drawing up a “hit list” of British MPs it wanted to take down.

Let’s further assume that the hit list included a senior minister in the British foreign office known for his deadly criticisms of Vladimir Putin.

And that a second figure on the list was another critic of Russia, the influential chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, once again targeted for his anti-Russian opinions.

Let’s assume also that a Russian official had been filmed telling the chairman of the Labour Friends of Russia that he had obtained “more than £1m” – say $1.2m – to pay for sympathetic Labour MPs to travel to Russia.

REVEALED: Israeli diplomat caught plotting to ‘take down’ UK MPs

All hell would have broken loose. The Russian ambassador would have been summoned to the Foreign Office to explain himself.

The embassy official would certainly have been frog-marched onto the next plane home.

We would have heard threats of sanctions and the breaking of diplomatic relations. A full-scale diplomatic crisis would have erupted. The British prime minister, Theresa May, would have demanded a personal explanation and apology from Putin.

Substitute “Israel” for “Russia” and it’s a very different story.

No expulsions. No diplomatic row. No threat of sanctions. Matter closed. Business as usual.

We have been blandly informed that the Israeli ambassador has apologised to Alan Duncan. The British foreign office has issued a brief statement saying that the UK has “a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed”.

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There’s a stench here. Something is badly wrong. Nothing adds up.

This episode raises a number of burning questions concerning British national security, not one of which have been answered.

First and foremost, who in reality is this Israeli embassy official Shai Masot? We are told that, even though he operates out of the Israeli embassy, he is not a diplomat.

If he’s not a diplomat, what is he?

Shai Masot, the Israeli Machiavelli caught in the act

The Israeli embassy says that Major Masot (he apparently describes himself as an officer in the Israeli Defence Forces) is a nothing more than a junior figure who spoke out of place.