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British Jews condemn appointment of Tzipi Hotovely as Israel's ambassador to UK

More than 800 British Jews call on the UK Foreign Office to reject nomination of hardline supporter of settlements
A self-described 'religious right-winger', Hotovely has been a strong backer of illegal settlements and Netanyahu's controversial annexation plan (AFP)

Parts of the British Jewish community have expressed outrage at Israel’s appointment of Tzipi Hotovely as the next ambassador to the United Kingdom, with some calling on London to refuse to accept the nomination.

The condemnation came after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Hotovely, the settlements minister and an outspoken supporter of his controversial plan to annex areas of the occupied West Bank, as successor to Mark Regev.

Israel's planned annexation of the Jordan Valley: Why it matters

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Israel's planned annexation of the Jordan Valley: Why it matters
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The annexation of the Jordan Valley could effectively kill whatever hopes remain for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict as it would render completely impossible the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.

In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement with his rival Benny Gantz to form a unity government that seek to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. Legislature could be discussed from 1 July.

The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the occupied West Bank (almost 2,400 square kilometres), where 30 Israeli agricultural settlements house around 11,000 settlers.

Some 56,000 Palestinians also reside in the Jordan Valley, including in the city of Jericho, where their daily lives are deeply impacted by Israeli occupation policies. 

The area is rich in minerals and agricultural soil and is a highly strategic area, as it lies along the Jordanian border.

Jordan, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and senior officials in the European Union openly oppose the annexation plan, while the administration of US President Donald Trump has encouraged such moves.

In an online petition on Saturday, more than 800 British Jews called on the UK Foreign Office to reject Hotovely’s nomination. 

“As British Jews we are clear: Tzipi Hotovely's values and politics have no place in the UK,” the letter read, citing the minister’s views against Arabs and Palestinians, and her support for annexation of lands she claims are the biblical rights of Israel. 

“It is crucial that the UK government sends a message that her views are unacceptable, and rejects her nomination as ambassador.”

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A counter-petition supporting her nomination had attracted 290 signatures as of Sunday.

'21st century apartheid'

Last week, almost 50 UN human rights experts condemned Israel's annexation plan, calling it a vision of "21st century apartheid".

"What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world," the experts said, referring to the territories set out for Black people by South Africa's apartheid regime.

Labour peer Lord Beecham said in a statement to the Jewish Chronicle: “The appointment of an ultra-right wing ambassador, while typical of the present government of Israel, will do nothing to win friends in the UK - or indeed any other reasonable country.”

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