The new chief Palestinian diplomat in the UK discusses antisemitism, engagement terms with Hamas and unwittingly reveals some common ground with Likud party members
It was an hour and a half into our interview that Husam Zomlot’s voice cracked, quite suddenly, with emotion, over a memory of his grandfather’s advice about Jews.
“I was raised by a grandfather. His name is Shehada,” he said.
“My grandfather taught me when I was little. He would take me to places to pray.
“He taught me, ‘Husam, Judaism is the closest to Islam.’
“He taught me to look up to Judaism, that if you want to eat, go and eat with a Jew, because they have the same habits and rituals.”
The most senior Palestinian diplomat in the UK is an affable, courteous man. He speaks animatedly, waving his arms and slapping a nearby coffee table as he punctuates his points. This — and the slight quiver to his lip as he remembers the man who raised him — gives his demeanour a strongly Mediterranean quality.