Breaking the Silence won’t admit what it was doing in UK consulate’s car

Video footage shows NGO leader taking officials on a settlement tour in officially marked British cars, but the NGO refuses to comment

By
August 27, 2019 04:36
2 minute read.

UK Consulate members chauffeur ‘Breaking the Silence’ tour guide (Credit: Jerusalem Post)

UK Consulate members chauffeur ‘Breaking the Silence’ tour guide (Credit: Jerusalem Post)

Two members of the British Consulate in Jerusalem toured Givon Hahadasha in the West Bank with a co-founder of Breaking the Silence (BTS), an NGO made up of former IDF soldiers who report about negative experiences serving over the Green Line. The organization has been described by politicians “as delegitimizing Israel.”

According to right-wing organization Im Tirtzu, on July 25 the British Consulate staffers reportedly chauffeured Yehuda Shaul, the co-founder of the NGO, as he gave them a tour of the settlement located near Givat Ze’ev northwest of Jerusalem.

The videos sent to The Jerusalem Post by Im Tirtzu showed the cars with white consular license plates.

When the Post asked BTS about the matter, the NGO refused comment.

Since 2005, BTS has been conducting tours to Hebron for Israeli and foreign visitors, though they were temporarily suspended in 2008 when a group of British diplomats were harassed with stones and eggs by settlers.

In July 2018, the government enacted the “Breaking the Silence” Law barring activists who slander Israel and the IDF in international forums from entering school premises.

When the law was proposed by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, former Education Minister Naftali Bennett said he supported it because, “Breaking the Silence long ago crossed the redlines beyond legitimate discourse when they started libeling Israel in the international arena. As long as they operate against Israel and the IDF abroad, I won’t let them in the education system.”

However, despite it being less common for the organization to travel in officially marked cars, Jack Fitzgerald of the British Consul told the Post that he “can confirm that British officials routinely travel throughout the West Bank as part of their diplomatic responsibilities, including to understand the impact of settlements on the two-state solution and nearby Palestinian communities.  

“As part of this work, we meet with a range of different organizations,” he added.

A security guard, who asked to remain anonymous, witnessed the events and confirmed that the car belonged to the British Consulate and had diplomatic license plates.

“I saw Yehuda Shaul arrive in the British Consulate’s vehicle with two people from the consulate themselves,” the security guard said. “After verifying their identity opposite a Ministry of Foreign Affairs situational room and [receiving] clearance from the DCO [District Coordination Office], permission was granted [to them] for entry into the settlement.

“He [Shaul] gave an explanation and a tour in opposition to the settlement... and told them false stories and such,” the guard said.

In the videos from Im Tirtzu, the consulate members and Shaul are seen standing by the security barrier speaking with Palestinians. Shaul is heard saying the fenced-off area they are standing beside is a “cage.”

Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, disagreed that the British Consulate and Breaking the Silence should have joint tours, stressing that the matter “crossed a redline.”

“This joint tour between the British Consulate and Breaking the Silence, a radical foreign government-funded NGO whose sole purpose is to slander Israel, crossed a redline,” Peleg said. “The Israeli public understood long ago that the true goal of Breaking the Silence is to harm Israel.

“Now, we are witness to them working with foreign governments in Israel in order to ‘catch Jews in action,’” he stressed.

Peleg added that “Israel must make it clear to foreign governments that such conduct is unacceptable.”


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