Labour conference votes for sanctions against Israel for ‘apartheid’ policy towards Palestinians

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Labour delegates have sparked a row with the party’s leadership by demanding sanctions against Israel for its “apartheid” policy towards Palestinians.

The motion passed by the Brighton conference demands action that stops “the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza”.

Sanctions should also be imposed to ensure Israel “brings down the Wall [in the West Bank] and respects the right of Palestinian people, enshrined in international law, to return to their homes”, it states.

The motion notes the reports by human rights groups that “conclude unequivocally that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN”.

But Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, was quick to distance herself from the motion – insisting Labour must follow “a fair and balanced approach”.

“There can only be a lasting peace through a safe and secure Israel existing alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state,” Ms Nandy said.

“Therefore we cannot support this motion. It does not address the issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a comprehensive or balanced way.”

Labour policy is “to condemn the unacceptable use of violence against civilians on all sides”, Ms Nandy said, in a statement.

She added: “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.”

The clash came as Keir Starmer celebrated the return of Louise Ellman, a Jewish former Labour MP, who resigned in protest at the antisemitism scandal under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Dame Louise announced: “Today I have rejoined Labour, returning to my political home” – hailed, by party aides, as a major step towards erasing the stain of antisemitism.

During the debate, its chair, MP Angela Eagle, called for delegates at the party conference to “manage their passions”.

Jawad Khan, of Young Labour, said: “The motion before you today will not only send our uncompromising solidarity with the Palestinian people by calling for sanctions against the state that is practising war crimes, it will bring us one step closer to finally ending the shameful century of British complicity and the denial of the right to self-determination, liberation and return.”

In March, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, also covering rocket fire by Hamas in an “impartial” approach.

Boris Johnson strongly opposed the inquiry in a letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel, calling it an “attack on Israel”.

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