A petition with the names of over 550 British Jews has called on the UK government to reject the appointment of incoming Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely.
Ms Hotovely said on Thursday that she had accepted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer for her to succeed Mark Regev as ambassador in London.
The petition is backed by Na’amod, a British-Jewish organisation that campaigns against the occupation and in favour of Palestinian rights.
The petition, addressed to the Foreign Office, says Ms Hotovely’s “values and politics have no place in UK”.
Ms Hotovely, 41, is a staunch opponent of the two-state solution and advocate of unilateral annexations in the West Bank.
She has, as the petition cites, publicly opposed relationships between Jews and Arabs and dubbed Palestinians “thieves of history” who are attempting to “Islamicise” Jewish history.
Ms Hotovely has served as Settlements Minister since May, with a brief and controversial tenure as interim Minister of Diaspora Affairs. She was Deputy Foreign Minister between 2015 and 2020.
“As Settlements Minister, Hotovely shares responsibility for upholding Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank – which she has called 'a myth' – and she is a leading advocate for annexation,” the petition reads.
Ms Hotovely has had a rocky relationship with the Jewish diaspora, and is generally considered a less inspired choice than the media savvy, Australian-born incumbent Mark Regev.
In 2017, Ms Hotovely was forced to apologise after causing a crisis in the relationship between Israel and American Jews. She had stated that the community lived “convenient lives” and “never send their children to fight” in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Rejecting Ms Hotovely, the petition authors claim, has some recent diplomatic precedent.
Brazil rejected Israeli settler leader Dani Dayan as the appointee for Israeli ambassador in Brasilia in 2015, while Britain blocked the appointment of the Zimbabwean ambassadorial nominee in 2016.
“Hotovely's values and politics have no place in the UK, and if the Israeli government believes they do then the British government must send a clear message otherwise by refusing her nomination,” the petition concludes.
A spokesperson for Na’amod said: “The signatories of this petition come from across the community, including multiple rabbis and members of the Board of Deputies, demonstrating how utterly unacceptable Hotovely’s politics are to British Jews.
“It is essential that the government sends a message by rejecting her nomination as ambassador,” the spokesperson continued, “but if they do not then our community must refuse to engage with her.”
A rival counter-petition created by pro-Israel activist Jonathan Hoffman, expresses "support for the new Ambassador" and urges the Foreign Office to "ignore" Na'amod's petition.
Mr Hoffman accuses Na'amod of being a "fringe extreme left organisation", and its petition of representing "only a handful of people".
Mr Hoffman's petition has 145 signatories.
The Jewish National Fund UK, a pro-Israel organisation, responded to the petition by stating: "The British Jewish community will gladly and respectfully endorse Mrs. Tzipi Hotovely as the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK. She is a leader with many positive attributes and achievements and we wish her the best of luck in her new position".