Israel’s UK ambassador accuses Newsnight host of ‘patronising Palestinians’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Israel’s UK ambassador accuses Newsnight host of ‘patronising Palestinians’

Tzipi Hotovely clashed with Emily Maitlis in frosty BBC interview, in which the envoy twice declined to say she supported a two-state solution

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Tzipi Hotovely on Newsnight with Emily Maitliss
Tzipi Hotovely on Newsnight with Emily Maitliss

Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom has accused BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis of “patronising the Palestinians” in a frosty interview in which she also declined to support a two-state solution for Israel.

Tzipi Hotovely’s first broadcast interview in the role came as Michael Gove is in Israel for talks focused on the pandemic. The British cabinet office minister, she said, held “strong discussions” with Benjamin Netanyahu as well as well as Israel’s health and foreign ministers.

After raising the success of Israel’s vaccine programme, presenter Maitlis questioned Hotovely on the much-discussed rollout among Palestinians – and suggested there was a moral and economic burden on Israel to do more.

The ambassador said: “Let’s make a fact check. The Palestinians asked to run their own programme of vaccination. I think sometimes there is a little bit of misunderstanding of their responsibility because according to all international agreements their health authorities should take care of the Palestinian population.” Even so Israel had stepped in to help when asked, she added.

She then challenged Maitlis directly, saying: “Would you impose getting vaccines to the leaders of the Palestinians? Would you say you have to accept Israeli access and Israeli help when they are not interested?

“Can you impose receiving vaccines when their leadership want to be in charge of the programme? You are patronising the Palestinians.”

She continued: “They had their own programme, they bought the Russian vaccine – I think we need to respect that.”

Confirming the introduction of the Green Passport scheme from mid-May, Hotovely praised the “co-operation” with the UK during the pandemic.

Asked about discussions over a travel corridor between the UK and Israel, the ambassador gave no time frame and revealed Israel was cautious about tourism starting a third Covid wave.

Maitlis also challenged the ambassador directly on whether she supported a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians – but she refused on two occasions to confirm she did.

“I am in favour of peace,” said Hotovely when asked about two states. Asked again she responded by saying: “We need to be realistic. In the Middle East we need to have more pragmatic options. At the moment it looks like the Palestinians are refusing to come and negotiate. You cannot speak about a formula when the Palestinians are not willing to negotiate with Israel . ”

Hotovely, a former settlements minister, was then asked about concern within parts of British Jewry about her appointment

She said she had been “welcomed by British Jewry” and added she was “very happy that after six months I think I’ve met every single group of the different denominations of British Jewry. They were very welcoming”.

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more: