'Israel is losing support' warns ambassador Matthew Gould

Israel is losing support across Europe due to its approach to the Palestinians and West Bank settlements, Britain’s ambassador in Tel Aviv has warned.

Matthew Gould said changes were “slowly” becoming apparent in the way British politicians and the media approached Israel.

“I love Israel and I worry that in another five years Israel will wake up and find that the country won’t have enough friends,” he said.

The ambassador said Europe had been only “days away” from a major fall-out with Israel over the Horizon 2020 science project.

Jerusalem had refused to sign up to the scheme – worth £400 million to Israeli researchers – over the European Union’s stance on settlements. A compromise was only reached after Israel was allowed to add an appendix to the agreement outlining its objections to the EU’s West Bank policy.

Mr Gould said: “Attitudes are shifting. Israel is losing support. I look at the British Parliament. I look at the media. There is a change. It is not a tsunami, it happens slowly. It happens over time and if you don't spot it before it's too late then it's very hard to repair.

“We were days away from putting in a big rift between British and European science and Israeli science, and that would have been a tragedy.”

Mr Gould’s comments were made during a special Channel Two broadcast in Israel on Saturday night. It looked at the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and its impact on Israeli businesses.

The ambassador has previously warned Israel that while the British public may not have expert knowledge on the issue of settlements or restrictions in Gaza, “they are not stupid”.

Last updated: 10:47am, January 23 2014