Middle East Monitor / September 28, 2021
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy claimed a motion calling for sanctions against Israel because it practices the crime of apartheid was not “comprehensive” or “balanced” and the leadership would not support it.
The motion, voted in at the Labour Party Conference yesterday, called for sanctions on the State of Israel and demanded it stops building illegal settlements, ends its occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza and reverses its annexation of Palestinian lands. It received overwhelming support from local Labour Party branches and trade unionists and passed at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, however, it was deemed unbalanced and incomprehensive and rejected by the leadership.
Nandy, however, claimed that Labour policy was to condemn unacceptable use of violence against civilians on “all sides”.
“There can only be a lasting peace through a safe and secure Israel existing alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state. Therefore we cannot support this motion. It does not address the issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a comprehensive or balanced way.”
However, despite declaring the leadership’s rejection of this motion, she said: “There will not be a just, lasting peace until the occupation is brought to a permanent end, and both Palestinians and Israelis enjoy security, dignity and human rights. We condemn all actions that are making that goal more difficult.”
Labour Friends of Israel’s Chairman Steve McCabe declared on Twitter that there are “still too many in the party who remain unhealthily obsessed with Israel”. Adding that “This motion is completely unacceptable, grossly inaccurate and morally repugnant … and propagates the apartheid smear” against Israel.
This comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s botched attempt to rewrite the rules to elect the party leader, which would remove the current “one member one vote”, and return it to the previous “electoral college” system, which would see the small number of Labour MPs enjoying a third of the vote in comparison to the thousands of lay members, who would also only receive a third of the vote.
This was seen as an attempt to “keep the left out” and prevent MPs considered “radical”, like former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, from winning the leadership.
Read the full text of the Labour Conference’s motion on Israel:
Conference condemns the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarized violence attacking the Al Aqsa mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza.
Together with the de facto annexation of Palestinian land by accelerated settlement building and statements of Israel’s intention to proceed with annexation, it is ever clearer that Israel is intent on eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination.
Conference notes the TUC 2020 Congress motion describing such settlement building and annexation as ‘another significant step’ towards the UN Crime of Apartheid, and calling on the European and international trade union movement to join the international campaign to stop annexation and end apartheid.
Conference also notes the unequivocal 2021 reports by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch that conclude Israel is practicing the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.
Conference welcomes the International Criminal Court decision to hold an inquiry into abuses committed in the occupied Palestinian Territory since 2014.
Conference resolves that action is needed now due to Israel’s continuing illegal actions and that Labour should adhere to an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel, including stopping any arms trade used to violate Palestinian human rights and trade with illegal Israeli settlements.
Conference resolves to support “effective measures” including sanctions, as called for by Palestinian civil society, against actions by the Israeli government that are illegal according to international law; in particular to ensure that Israel stops the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, brings down the Wall and respects the right of the Palestinian people, as enshrined in international law, to return to their homes.
Conference resolves to renew the pledge to recognize the State of Palestine immediately on being elected to government.
Conference resolves that the Labour Party must stand on the right side of history and abide by these resolutions in its policy, communications and political strategy.