It was a Pales­tinian nar­ra­tive

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY MARTIN BRIGHT

AT THE be­gin­ning of this week I was told by var­i­ous se­nior Con­ser­va­tive sources that the JC’s story about Alan Dun­can’s “land grab” video had been hugely em­bar­rass­ing, but that his views were not shared by other gov­ern­ment min­is­ters. The ap­pear­ance of the video had been an er­ror, I was told, but the mis­take would be rec­ti­fied and a clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the true gov­ern­ment po­si­tion is­sued.

But the best the gov­ern­ment could come up with was a state­ment from Mr Dun­can’s depart­ment, sug­gest­ing that his words had been mis­in­ter­preted.

Min­is­ters are in a very dif­fi­cult po­si­tion on this mat­ter be­cause Mr Dun­can was, strictly speak­ing, do­ing no more than ex­press­ing of­fi­cial UK gov­ern­ment pol­icy. It does be­lieve that Israel has failed to keep to its bor­ders in con­struct­ing the se­cu­rity wall, and it is op­posed to set­tle­ment build­ing and the im­pli­ca­tions for nat­u­ral re­sources such con­struc­tion brings with it.

The prob­lem was that the lan­guage he used was straight from the lexicon of Pales­tinian re­sis­tance. Mr Dun­can must have known this and so must his of­fi­cials when they ig­nored For­eign Office ad­vice not to post Mr Dun­can’s in­cen­di­ary com­ments on an of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment web­site.

At last year’s Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence Mr Dun­can, who is known for his pro-Pales­tinian views, raised eye­brows by speak­ing at a pro-Pales­tinian event hosted by the New States­man mag­a­zine and ex­press­ing his frus­tra­tion that min­is­ters could not speak to Ha­mas.

Alan Dun­can’s po­si­tion has been se­ri­ously un­der­mined by the in­ci­dent and it is un­cer­tain whether he will be able to sur­vive in this highly sen­si­tive post. His min­is­te­rial col­leagues and Bri­tish diplo­mats in the re­gion will not eas­ily for­give him for mak­ing their al­ready dif­fi­cult jobs a whole lot harder.

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