(AFP) The Israeli embassy in London sought to head off a diplomatic storm Sunday, apologizing after one of its staff was caught on camera threatening to “take down” a British government minister.
The Mail on Sunday newspaper posted the footage showing the embassy employee telling an undercover reporter from Al-Jazeera that “I want to take down… the Deputy Foreign Minister” (Alan Duncan) — a long-time critic of Israel, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s second-in-command.
Duncan was “doing a lot of problems,” he added.
The embassy issued an immediate apology, saying it “rejects the remarks concerning Minister Duncan, which are completely unacceptable”.
“The comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly,” it added.
Ambassador Mark Regev apologized personally to Duncan on Friday, according to the embassy. Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed they had received an apology, and that it now considered “the matter closed”.
The footage was recorded at a restaurant opposite the Israeli embassy in Kensington, west London, during a meeting attended by Maria Strizzolo, senior aide to Conservative Education Minister Robert Halfon.
Strizzolo spoke of her influence in helping Halfon become a minister, prompting the embassy staffer to ask her “can you do the opposite stuff as well?”
However, Strizzolo said Duncan would be “impossible to rebuff” due to having powerful “friends”, but then suggested “a little scandal, maybe?”
The embassy employee also called foreign office chief Johnson an “idiot” and mocked “crazy” opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and his “weirdo” supporters.