Majority of Labour Euro candidates back anti-Israel measures

By Marcus Dysch, May 20, 2014
Labour leader Ed Miliband opposes boycotts (Photo: Labour)

Labour leader Ed Miliband opposes boycotts (Photo: Labour)

Dozens of Labour’s European election candidates have pledged to support anti-Israel measures if elected, with one referring to a "holocaust in Palestine".

They have signed up to five policy points - including a boycott of settlements - promoted by the Labour Friends of Palestine group.

Their position puts them at odds with party leader Ed Miliband’s stance on Israel. He has repeatedly said he is opposed to boycotts.

Among the signatories was Afzal Khan, a co-chair of the Manchester Muslim-Jewish Forum, and eastern region candidate Alex Mayer, who has boasted of how her grandparents fled Nazi persecution during the Holocaust.

The pledges – promoted on social media sites as #Five4Palestine – call on the candidates to campaign on behalf of “the people of Palestine and all of the Middle East”.

The five points include supporting a peace deal based on 1967 borders, opposition to violations of international human rights law with particular focus on the detention of children and “political prisoners without trial”.

Candidates also agreed to “oppose the continued construction of the Separation Wall on Palestinian land which is in contravention of international law” and to “end the siege on Gaza”.

The final pledge commits to ending “all trade with Israeli settlements illegally built on occupied Palestinian territory”.

None of the points refer to terror attacks conducted against Israeli civilians.

Of the party’s 70 candidates, 47 had signed the agreement by Tuesday morning. They also committed to visiting the Palestinian territories once elected.

Julie Ward, standing in the north west region, is among the signatories.

At a Palestine Solidarity Campaign hustings in Manchester last week she accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing by planning” and said that if elected to Brussels she would be “representing the people of Palestine”.

She also used her Twitter account to promote an image of dead children alongside the description: “The holocaust in Palestine. Nakba 66 years ago today.”

Ms Ward later apologised. She said: “I feel strongly about human rights issues for all involved in the conflict and would not wish to cause any offense.

"I apologise if I have done so and look forward to continued dialogue on this issue."

Muslim-Jewish Forum secretary Heather Fletcher said she was aware of Mr Khan’s candidacy and position, but that the group had “no political agenda whatsoever”.

Mark Cherry, a Labour councillor in Oxfordshire, tweeted a picture of a concentration camp alongside an anti-Conservative slogan during his campaigning on Sunday.

A Labour spokesman said: "Ed Miliband has made clear that Labour does not support boycotts, they are not the answer and do not progress the cause of peace or help foster negotiations and dialogue."

Last updated: 2:54pm, May 20 2014