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Alan Duncan, UK ex-minister accuses pro-Israel lobbyists of negatively influencing the country’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

By Alex MacDonald Published date: 8 April 2021

A former UK foreign office minister has accused pro-Israel lobbyists of “the most disgusting interference” in British public life, and of negatively influencing the country’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

Alan Duncan, a former Conservative MP and government minister until 2019, wrote in his newly published memoir that the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) had been responsible for pushing the country to adopt disproportionately anti-Palestinian and pro-Israel policies.

Founded in 1974, the CFI is a parliamentary group and unaffiliated organisation that supports the ruling Conservative Party and advocates for pro-Israel policies.

Speaking to journalist Michael Crick about his diaries for the MailPlus website, Duncan said the CFI had injected a “Netanyahu-type view of Israeli politics into our foreign policy”, referring to Israel’s right-wing prime minister. 

Alan added that it had lobbied to prevent him becoming Middle East minister at the foreign office.

Former British Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan gestures during a joint press conference with Ecuador’s Ambassador Jaime Marchan at Victoria Gardens, Westminster, on 11 April 2019 (AFP)

“A lot of things do not happen in foreign policy or in government for fear of offending them because that’s the way it’s put to them by the CFI,” he said. 

“It’s a sort of buried scandal that has to stop… they will interfere at a high level in British politics in the interests of Israel on the back of donor power in the UK.”

He added that ultimately the influence of the CFI came at the expense of the Palestinians, emphasising that the group’s leadership would frame pro-Palestinian policies as potentially offending Jewish donors to the Conservative Party.

“Most of the Jewish donors would never want their donations to be used to influence in this way – I just think it’s a mess,” he said.

PETER OBORNE: Duncan’s stand on settlements makes him Israeli target. Read More »

Duncan served as minister of state for Europe and the Americas between 2016 and 2019 under then Prime Minister Theresa May. Following her resignation and the ascension of Boris Johnson, he stepped down from his position and did not stand for re-election in the December 2019 parliamentary elections.

Known for his support for pro-Palestinian stances, such as his rejection of illegal Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories, Duncan has previously come under fire from pro-Israel circles.

In January 2017, opposition politicians in the UK called for an investigation into comments made by an Israeli embassy official who had talked of plotting to “take down” Duncan because of his public opposition to Israeli settlements.

Shai Masot, who would afterwards be removed from his position, was caught by an undercover reporter discussing with a British civil servant how to discredit Duncan. He would later apologise for his comments.

Crispin Blunt, a Conservative MP and then-chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, told Middle East Eye at the time that Britain could not have “Israel acting in the UK with the same impunity it enjoys in Palestine”.

“This is clearly interference in another country’s politics of the murkiest and most discreditable kind,” Crispin said.

In the past, the CFI has claimed that 80% of Conservative MPs were members of the organisation. It has organised numerous trips to Israel for politicians.

Note: The UK has been plagued for decades by multinational institutions (for example the Murdock publishing and media mogul) to bribe and blackmail entire UK institutions against private rights. Actually, it was the total support of Murdock for Brexit that allowed the referendum to win with a slight majority.

Fleet Street, News of the World, Sean Hoare, Rupert Murdock, and Andy Coulson

“Get cash for your story” advertises the Sun on July 21, even as the close scrutiny and investigation that tabloids are under for illegal wire tapping and salacious stories.  In 1969, Rupert Murdock landed in London with the purpose of purchasing News of the World.  Andrew Whittam Smith (a young financial journalist at the time) welcomed Murdoch at Heathrow airport and drove him to Savoy Hotel.  Murdoch demanded to have his room changed: “I am afraid my reserved room could be bugged or phone line tapped” . Listening on private lines will be the most lucrative wealth generation, for timely and juicy private pieces of intelligence on the stars and bereaved families.

“I was paid to go out with rock stars, get drunk, and sniff cocaine with the rich and glamorous stars” confided Sean Hoare, the old star reporter of the tabloids of the Murdock media empire, who managed to present firm proofs that News of the World was engaged in endemic wire tapping on stars and private citizens. Hoare continues: “This is a hyper-competitive job and you have got to forget your professional duties and do what a sane person never contemplate to do. We are trained to become a machine of producing scoops, whatever is the cost.”  Hoare was the correspondent of “show-business” section, related to music, movie, TV, and the rock stars.

Fleet Street was the main avenue in London that hosted most of the large dailies, until Rupert Murdock of News of the World dislodged them to Wapping, by the Docklands.  News of the World was in direct competition with  Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail, and sold 5 million copies.

Fleet Street was a state of mind: reporters and investigators breath for the daily; they camped three nights at a time in front of the targeted apartment and paid handsomely for important pieces of intelligence. Fleet Street reporters were of the hard core type, acquired great intuition, and learned doubtful, and illegal practices.  They had to: If they failed to bring in juicy scoops, they were liable to be fired on the spot. The tabloid reporters were constantly pressured to produce more sensational, and more intimate scoops.

For example, when the “men of Fleet Street” landed in France to cover the death of Lady D, they managed to gather in a few hours more information than the most famous correspondents.

The 47 year-old Sean Hoare, primary witness to the British scandal of systematic wire tapping practices by News of the World and paying off police force for information, was found dead on Monday, July 18, in his house in Watford.  The police declared: “This death cannot be explained, but it is not suspect apparaently.”

Sean Hoare was hired by The Sun in 1998 from the Sunday People and was taken in charge by Andy Coulson who wrote the column “Bizarre” till 2003. Andy Coulson was the current spokesman of England Cameron PM, before he was fired after the scandal broke out.

Sean Hoare followed Andy Coulson as he headed News of the World till 2003.  In 2001, Hoare received the Shafta Prize of the tabloids.  In 2005, Sean Hoare is fired from the News of the World and decided in 2009 to “tell it all”.  News of the World denied the revelations of this drug addict and useless “whistle blower”.

For two years, Hoare is abandoned by his friends, left as a refuse, and he sank even deeper into addiction and booze.

The legal proceedings to go after the top powerful directors of News of the World are based on the “The Regulation Of Investigatory Powers Act” of 2000. The clause under “Penal Responsibilities of the administrators…” stipulates “A moral entity who connives or consents on an illegal action…or attributed to an act of negligence…of an administrator, a cadre, or a secretary… will be deemed participating in the crime…”

Consequently, Rabekah Brooks, Andy Coulson… and ultimately Rupert Murdock will be tried in justice.

Note 1: A few chronological events: November 2005: News of the World publishes an article on Prince Charles and Buckingham palace demand an investigation.  January 2007, Clive Goodman (specialized in covering the royal family) is put in prison for 4 months on account of illegally tapping the royal phone lines. Goodman’s private detective Glenn Mulcaire serves six months of prison. July 2009, The daily The Guardian reveals that at least 3,000 personalities were tapped. January 2011, Andy Coulson resigns.  July 7, 2011, News of the World publishes it last issue.

Note 2: This article was inspired from a piece in the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur and written by Jean-Gabriel Fredet.




June 2023

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