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Israeli intelligence minister meets Iranian diaspora in London

Israel's Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel met in London with Iranian exiled activists and journalists, preparing for "the day after" when the Iranian regime weakens.
Israel Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel meets with Iranian journalists and activists in exile, London, UK, Sept. 6 2023 Credit: curtsy of office of Intelligence Minister

LONDON — Israel’s Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel met on Wednesday in London with several Iranian activists and journalists in part of a monthslong campaign by the senior Israeli official to establish public channels with Iranian exile groups, as protests against the regime in Tehran approach their one-year anniversary. 

A source close to Gamliel told Al-Monitor that the senior Israeli official spoke with the Iranian guests on the importance of getting the West to join the battle in Iran for human rights and freedom, and that Iran continues its terror campaign not only against Israel but also in other places in the world. The minister told her interlocutors about her cooperation with Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah of Iran, who visited Israel last April and is part of preparations for "the day after" in Iran. The ministry's spokesperson declined to say where exactly the meeting took place. 

"The minister considers these meetings an excellent opportunity to build bridges and to pass messages to the Iranian regime that the Iranian people are not giving up their freedom," the source told Al-Monitor.

Since being appointed to her position, Gamliel has met Iranian activists in exile on several occasions. Also, together with the Foreign Ministry, she has been leading the campaign to persuade the European Union to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization.

Iran, for its part, has accused Israel of carrying out sabotage attacks targeting its nuclear program and defense industries as part of a wider strategy aimed at regime change.

Follows a series of meetings for Gamliel

Gamliel traveled to London and Rome last June where she met government officials. Both of her visits were aimed at promoting the blacklisting of the IRGC. On June 22, the Israeli minister met with British Minister of State for Security under the British Home Office Tom Tugendhat and also with members of the House of Lords from both major parties. A week later in Italy, Gamliel met Sen. Giulio Terzi, who serves as a member of the European Union Council against a nuclear Iran. 

On Aug. 10, Gamliel participated as a keynote speaker at an online meeting titled "The Path to a Democratic Iran." The conference was organized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. In her speech, Gamliel called on the West to outlaw the IRGC and expressed her support for the Iranian people and Iranian demonstrators. Former American national security adviser John Bolton also participated in the meeting, as did some Iranian activists, including one of the founders of the IRGC turned pro-democracy activist Mohsen Sazegara. 

At that online meeting, Gamliel said, "We must guide the Iranian people toward freedom. The Iranian regime is currently oppressing tens of millions of Iranians, including women and children. It holds them hostage and commits acts of terrorism and torture against them." Gamliel added that "Europe must deal with banning the IRGC and take a more significant step than imposing sanctions."

Gamliel noted that "the people of Israel stand by the Iranian people. When Crown Prince (son of the last Shah) Reza Pahlavi visited Israel, we together sent a message of freedom and hope to millions of Iranians. We must lead a vision for a safe, stable and prosperous Iran for the sake of the Iranian people and the entire world."

The Israeli intelligence minister has been supporting Iranian women ever since the beginning of the demonstrations in Tehran nearly a year ago. In an op-ed published in the Maariv newspaper on March 8 on the occasion of International Women's Day, Gamliel wrote, "The citizens of Iran are not Israel's enemies. Peaceful relations, respect and appreciation prevailed between the peoples for many years" before the Islamic Revolution in 1979.  

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