The Israeli government put further pressure on diaspora relations this week by confirming the appointment of the pro-annexation Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely as Israel’s next ambassador to the UK.
A member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, Hotovely is a religious-nationalist committed to a one-state solution of ‘Greater Israel’ that includes the West Bank, and has made a series of incendiary comments on Temple Mount, Palestinians, non-governmental organisations and settlements.
Her confirmation coincides with a fierce backlash by dozens of high-profile British Zionists against Israel’s planned annexation of large chunks of the West Bank. The UK government has said any such action would be illegal.
In response to news of Hotovely’s appointment on Thursday, a spokeswoman for liberal British group Yachad said: “We look forward to conveying to Mrs Hotovely the high level of concern in this community about a potential unilateral annexation of West Bank territory, as well as the widespread support for a two state solution.”
Yachad also pointed Hotovely to an open letter signed by 40 leading Jewish figures “who have spent decades vocally advocating for Israel, suggesting that they would not be able to continue to do so, should Israel carry out its annexation plans”.
Hotovely has already irked diaspora communities with her statements about American Jews, arguing that they “don’t understand the complexities of the region” because “they never send their children to fight for their country, most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers”.
It was later pointed out that Hotovely had served her own national service not in the IDF but as an educational guide in Jerusalem and as an emissary of the Jewish Agency in the United States.
In 2017, while serving as deputy foreign minister, she told the US-based Conference of Presidents that “it is time to look past the two-state solution… The Palestinians are not interested in a state, they want Israel not to exist and that is their main goal”.
She added: “We need to delete the word ‘occupation’ and we need to redefine the term ‘refugee’ – they are the fourth generation but their parents are handing them keys to refugee camps.”
Two months earlier, in December 2016, she was hosted in London by the Board of Deputies by then-president Jonathan Arkush, whilst in 2015 she described EU proposals to label settlement products as “basically boycotting all of Israel”.
A lawyer by profession, she was given the Diaspora Affairs ministerial portfolio late last year, and will now replace the outgoing Israeli ambassador Mark Regev, who came to the UK after serving several years as Netanyahu’s spokesman.