Leaked UK Foreign Office documents reveal attitudes towards Netanyahu and Palestinian incitement

Documents seen by The Commentator have revealed disturbing attitudes towards the Israeli Prime Minister and the British Government’s analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

by The Commentator on 3 July 2012 17:36


Documents seen exclusively by The Commentator have revealed disturbing attitudes towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the British Government’s analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

While British Prime Minister David Cameron publicly calls the UK a ‘strong friend of Israel’ – previously redacted documents marked “RESTRICTED” by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have placed fresh doubts over whether Britain is as firm an ally as the Prime Minister has previously suggested.

Research papers and e-mail correspondence from within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office were supposedly redacted, however staff who compiled responses to freedom of information requests had seemingly failed to properly secure the information before it was released.

The text, which was then uncovered by TaxPayers’ Alliance Founder Matthew Elliott, reveals information about the FCO approach to Benjamin Netanyahu and the wider Middle East peace process.

Of specific interest is a document called “Research Paper FINAL” in which the following lines had previously been redacted by British Government officials:

Netanyahu has a history of using the incitement issue as a delaying tactic in peace talks.”


“The history of this issue suggests that Netanyahu administrations have a tendency to charge the PA/PLO with incitement as a delaying tactic in peace talks.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson told The Commentator, “The Foreign Secretary has consistently set out the UK’s position on the Middle East Peace Process, including the urgent need for progress and the UK’s unswerving support for a lasting two state solution”. 

A government source said: "The views of a junior official should not be conflated with the clear positions that the Foreign Secretary has set out repeatedly in Parliament.”

But critics of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will seize upon this as evidence that Palestinian incitement is willfully ignored by British authorities and argue that the Foreign Office does not always act as an ally of the State of Israel.

Phillip Hollobone MP, the Member of Parliament for Kettering told The Commentator, “There is a growing body of well documented evidence that official Palestinian organisations – some funded by the UK, the EU and the UN – are promoting terrorism and martyrdom in an attempt to aid the Palestinian cause, and yet the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DfID appear surprisingly slow to explore this evidence and condemn its perpetrators. Now we know why.

"Whilst Britain has always appeared – officially at least - to see both sides of the complex conflict between Israeli and Arab, it would now appear that some British government officials are seeking to inject an unfair pro-Palestinian bias into official UK Government briefing documents.”

E-mails between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development also give insight into the British Government’s approach to reports produced by the non-profit IMPACT-SE group, an organisation staffed by numerous academics that monitors and analyses school books across the world.

An e-mail dated February 15th 2012 insists that IMPACT-SE work should be “taken with a (v) large pinch of salt”.

One local Palestinian staff member of the FCO named in the correspondence, explains away the issue of Palestinian incitement as inaccurate translation and quotations of the Prophet Muhammed’s hadiths. An e-mail dated February 16th between FCO officials requested that an “Arabic speaker in RA look at… whether there is a degree of the message being “lost in translation”?” alluding to a preferred outcome.


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also disclosed information about delay tactics used when the Foreign Secretary William Hague was due to meet with a concerned Member of the British Parliament on the issue of incitement in the Palestinian Territories. The text of an e-mail reads:

“We've already getting interest from Parliament in this report, with our MoS's office taking a call today from David Burrowes MP requesting an urgent meeting on this issue. We've managed to push this back from this week to the 8th March. It would be really helpful to get the team's initial analysis of the report's key findings ahead of this if possible. At the moment, we are using the holding line.”

An internal e-mail from the Department for International Development from 20th February 2012 contains the subject line, "Action: Defensive Lines" and asks: 

"Maybe XXX can follow up with BCG (British Consul General) and Tel Aviv on the textbooks in slower time, since it is useful for her to be in contact with their public relations/media people anyway?" 

The response to which was: "Sounds like a sensible plan".

These revelations will likely anger British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been insistent on Ministers of State leading on policy, rather than taking their guidance from ‘mandarins’ in government departments. In 2010, Cameron described the ties between the Conservative Party and Israel as ‘unbreakable’ and has described himself as "a Prime Minister whose belief in the state of Israel is indestructible”.

The redactions also state that Netanyahu is a “strong opponent of the Oslo Accords” despite his public support for a two-state solution.

E-mails correspondence was often carried out over the secure government ‘GSX’ network, used only for restricted correspondence. All relevant information has been included with names redacted for security and/or personal reasons.

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