Ed Miliband addresses Labour party conference

By Jennifer Lipman, September 28, 2010

Ed Miliband has told the Labour party conference that Israel should lift the naval blockade of Gaza.

In his debut speech as Labour leader, Mr Miliband said: “We must strain every sinew to work to make that happen” and called on the government to step up and help bring “a just and lasting peace to the Middle East.”

He added: “There can be no solution…without international action, providing support where it is needed, and pressure where it is right to do so.”

Although he said he would always defend the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, the former Energy Secretary and MP for Doncaster North added that he believed what happened on the Gaza flotilla was “wrong”.

An Israeli foreign ministry speokesman said Mr Miliband "did nto express the type of support of Israel in his speech that some previous British leaders have."

Earlier in the speech the new Labour leader said that his love for Britain comes from the story of his parents’ escape from the Nazis.

Mr Miliband said: “Two young people fled the darkness that had engulfed the Jews across Europe.

“In Britain they found the light of liberty.

"They arrived with nothing. This country gave them everything."

His father, Marxist thinker Ralph Miliband, escaped from Belgium during the Holocaust.

In Britain, he met and married Marion Kozak, who came to this country as a child after the Nazis marched into Poland.

Mr Miliband added that his parents had taught him “never to walk by on the other side of injustice.

“What my parents learned in fear they passed on to us in an environment of comfort and security.

"We do not have to accept the world as we find it."

He also said that the experience of his parents had shaped his own view on immigration.

"I am the son of immigrants. I believe Britain has benefited economically, culturally, socially from those who came to this country."

Last updated: 12:48pm, November 8 2010