29 August 2017

UK Labour set to ditch call to recognise Palestinian state and criticism of "illegal" settlements

From the Jewish Chronicle, August 25, 2017, by Lee Harpin:

The [UK] Labour party is set to ditch demands for the “immediate” recognition of a Palestinian state along with any criticism of “illegal” Israeli settlements in policies due to be debated at its annual conference next month.

Draft text to be put before the party’s national policy forum in Brighton reiterates support for a two-state solution in the region and avoids any direct criticism of Israel.

...The policy, which is expected to be heavily criticised by anti-Zionist groups within the party, reads:
“In Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution: a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.”
...Despite attempts by supporters of the hard-left Momentum group to establish explicit anti-Israel policies in Labour branches across the country, party leaders have largely devoted their attention to domestic issues.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, delivered a carefully worded speech during a Commons debate on Israel and the Palestinians last month, which seemed to suggest a new desire for the party to take a more balanced position.

Ahead of the general election, Labour faced criticism over its biased draft manifesto stance on Israel and the Palestinians. The initial version, focusing on Israeli actions and making no mention of Palestinian terrorism, led to a row in the Shadow Cabinet and the final manifesto made clear the party would call for “an end to rocket and terror attacks”. But it also pledged a Labour government would “immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.