Israel reportedly suspends government spokesman

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Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy speaks to journalists in Tel Aviv, Israel (28 November 2023)Image source, Getty Images

Israel’s English-language government spokesman Eylon Levy has been suspended, Israeli media reports say.

The Israeli prime minister’s office has not given a reason, according to the reports. But there is speculation that it is linked to an online row with the UK foreign secretary, Lord Cameron.

Mr Levy has so far not commented.

On 8 March, he wrote a now-deleted post on X responding to another one from Lord Cameron that urged Israel “to allow more [aid] trucks into Gaza”.

“I hope you are also aware there are NO limits on the entry of food, water, medicine, or shelter equipment into Gaza, and in fact the crossings have EXCESS capacity,” Mr Levy replied.

“Test us. Send another 100 trucks a day to Kerem Shalom and we’ll get them in,” he added, referring to an Israeli-controlled border crossing.

Two days earlier, he wrote another post criticising a statement issued by Lord Cameron after a meeting with an Israeli minister in London.

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Israel’s Channel 12 News reported on Tuesday that Mr Levy was suspended shortly after the UK Foreign Office wrote to Israel’s foreign ministry to express its “surprise” and seek clarification on whether Mr Levy’s posts represented the Israeli government’s official position.

The Financial Times cited a person familiar with the matter as characterising the British query as: “Is this the way allies speak to each other?”

On Wednesday, Israeli media said the prime minister’s office had confirmed that Mr Levy was suspended, but that it had not provided further details.

There was no immediate response from Mr Levy. But he described himself as an Israeli government spokesman in several posts on X on Tuesday.

Mr Levy, who is in his 30s, was born in the UK and emigrated to Israel in 2014.

He served in Cogat, the Israeli defence ministry body that oversees policy for the Palestinian territories, worked as a TV news anchor and was most recently international media adviser to President Isaac Herzog.

He rose to international prominence after becoming a government spokesperson following Hamas’s 7 October attacks on Israel and the start of the war in Gaza, and frequently being interviewed by English-language broadcasters, including the BBC.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made critical remarks about Israel’s English-language public diplomacy during a closed-door meeting with two parliamentary committees on Tuesday.

Channel 12 quoted him as saying: “There simply are no people. You are surrounded by people who can’t put two words together [in English].”

In response to that report, his office said he “deeply values the work of his team and of the Public Diplomacy Directorate that operates under him”.

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