We have had cause before to comment on apparent inconsistencies in the government's attitude to Israel. But the latest example, from Alan Duncan, minister for International Development, is something else again. Mr Duncan states that the security wall is a "land-grab… a perimeter wall trying to annex land that does not belong to Israel" and that the Israelis are stealing water from the Palestinians. His comments are a mix of ignorance and prejudice. But few will be surprised.
Mr Duncan has form. Indeed, on this page we publish a letter in which the blustering minister accuses the JC of publishing "entirely unfounded" allegations that his department funds antisemitic propaganda within the Palestinian Authority. He then fails to provide a single word to support his claim.
Mr Duncan's remarks can usually be dismissed as those of a man suffused with loathing for Israel. What makes his latest statement of real concern is that, despite being given every attempt by the JC to correct him, the Foreign Office could not be more insistent that Mr Duncan has not uttered a word out of place. A spokesman insisted that Mr Duncan's statement "is the government's position". So, according to the Foreign Office, Israel is effectively a rogue state, deliberately stealing land and water. It has taken 15 months to find out what this government really thinks. Now we know.