Foreign Office officials 'suggested excluding Israel from AI summit'

Officials were reportedly concerned that Netanyahu could overshadow the conference if he discussed the conflict


AYLESBURY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 8: Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak records a video message about the situation in Israel at Chequers, the official country residence of the Prime Minister, on October 8, 2023 in Aylesbury, England. Israel has said that more than 100 people have been taken hostage and 600 are dead following Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel from Gaza, which began on October 7th. The prime minister said he had spoken to Benjamin Netanyahu and offered to send “diplomatic or security support” to the region if requested. (Photo by Suzanne Plunkett - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Officials in the Foreign Office "floated the idea of excluding Israel" from the upcoming AI summit at Bletchley Park.

According to The Times, officials advised Foreign Secretary James Cleverly that the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be disinvited in the wake of Israel’s war with Hamas.

The officials reportedly reasoned that if Netanyahu brought up the conflict it would overshadow Rishi Sunak, who is hosting the summit.

Cleverly and Michelle Donelan, the science and technology secretary, were reportedly angered by the advice, which runs counter to the government’s support for Israel.

A source told The Times: “The answer was very firmly ‘No, they [the Israelis] are coming’.”

Cleverly redrafted the advice to reflect that view before it was submitted to Downing Street.

As well as Netanyahu, X/ Twitter owner Elon Musk; Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission; and Giorgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister, will attend the summit this week in Bletchley Park, which will be focused on AI safety.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We remain confident that we have brought together the right group of world experts in the AI space – leading businesses and indeed world leaders and representatives who will be able to take on this vital issue.

“This is the first AI safety summit of its kind. I think it is a significant achievement that for the first time, people from across the world and indeed from across the range of world leaders, and indeed AI experts, are coming together to look at these frontier risks.”

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