Friday, November 10, 2017

What's Behind the Patel Affair?

Although UK Tory minister and Israel luvvie Priti Patel has finally been booted by British PM Theresa May, Jonathan Cook speculates that there may be more to her assignations in Israel than meets the eye:

"Was Patel pursuing an 'alternative' policy towards Israel, or its neighbors? And if so, what was that policy, and did anyone senior to her authorise it? Her role in talking to senior Israelis bypassed the foreign office. Did she do so because officials there like Alan Duncan were seen as not sympathetic enough to Israel, and might try to sabotage it?... How does May, a fervent supporter of Israel, fit into this picture?

"Given British government secrecy, it will likely never be possible to provide definitive answers. But it is worth remembering that Israel, its still-powerful neocon allies in Washington and the Saudi regime are angling for the Israeli army to reverse the decisive gains Assad and his allies have made in taking back control in Syria in recent months.

"This week Daniel Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel, wrote in the Haaretz newspaper that the Saudis were meddling yet again in Lebanese politics, forcing Hizbullah into greater political prominence, to provide the pretext for Israel to renew its confrontation with the Lebanese militia and thereby stoke a new war between Israel and Lebanon and Syria. In his words: 'Israel and Saudi Arabia are fully aligned in the regional struggle, and the Saudis cannot help but be impressed by Israel's increasing assertiveness to strike at Iranian threats in Syria... When the moment of truth arrives, Israel's allies, with the United States in the lead, should give it full backing.'

"When the time comes, Israel will, as ever, rely on well-placed friends in western capitals to support and misrepresent its actions. Until her resignation, Priti Patel would undoubtedly have been one of those prominent champions of Israel helping out in a time of need." (From UK minister forced to resign over secret Israel meetings as questions continue to swirl,, 9/11/17)


Grappler said...

Really interesting article by Cook. This is a drama worthy of House of Cards. Who is outing whom and why? Why would Israeli officials issue tweets of meetings with Patel - didn't she tell them it was off the record? It seems that she might have been chosen as the scapegoat. Or did hubris overwhelm caution?

Grappler said...

Good piece on this topic by Asa Winstanley at Electronic Intifada:

Anonymous said...

Something is afoot, the pretext will be Hezbollah and Lebanon, but the real target is Iran.

Grappler said...

While the Guardian is a basket case terms of journalism and editorials, its commenters are more sane:

The one by Meadowcroft starts to ask the right questions but doesn't go quite far enough. Indeed May might or might not have known about the visit, but the real question is "Who outed her and why?" Was it really a stupid Opposition Leader (Yair Lapid) who tweeted a photo of a meeting with Patel? If so, it suggests a lack of awareness of the current fragility of support for Israel in the West, and especially in the UK.

Michael said...

Another thought: Patel freelances to win Israeli and UK Jewish support/money for a leadership challenge. In return she uses the UK foreign aid budget to pressure poor countries to support Israel at the UN etc and Israel ends up with the British PM in their pocket.

Grappler said...

I take your point Michael but "freelancing" by disobeying standard ministerial code seems not to be a way to shore up support by your colleagues - a prerequisite for PM. Moreover, the (Zionist) Jewish Chronicle has just landed May and Johnson in the toilet over this. Patel garnered no support from her colleagues or her department. Perhaps Jewish money is more important than collegial support but if that is indeed the case, Britain is a lost cause. May is only there because no potential competitor will do Brexit - it's a precarious situation. If Israel is seen as pushing her over the cliff, support for it will tank in the UK, no matter what Britain thinks about May. Already there is a significant division among British Jews about Israel. Israel is in trouble for involvement by its embassy staff in plots against senior politicians in the UK. Surely it cannot be seen to be involved in further plots so soon. And then I keep coming back to the question, "Why the tweet?" Is Lapid so naive?