New Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander's Middle East history

By Jennifer Lipman, January 21, 2011
Douglas Alexander with Mahmoud Abbas in 2009

Douglas Alexander with Mahmoud Abbas in 2009

The chair of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) has said he is looking forward to working with the new Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, who was appointed following the resignation of Alan Johnson from the front bench.

Labour leader Ed Miliband appointed Douglas Alexander to replace Yvette Cooper yesterday, moving him from his role as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

Mr Alexander, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, was first elected in 1997 in Tony Blair’s landslide victory.

He became Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs in 2004, and was elevated to International Development Secretary by Gordon Brown in 2007.

In that role, Mr Alexander was heavily involved in co-ordinating Britain’s response to the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza just over two years ago.

After the ceasefire, he oversaw the allocation of £30 million from the UK government to the Palestinians for reconstruction work.

He was also strongly critical when the BBC refused to broadcast the Disasters & Emergency Committee’s Gaza appeal on the ground that it would be a breach of impartiality standards.

He has been a strong critic of the actions of Hamas in Gaza, but also condemned Israel for imposing restrictions on people in the Gaza Strip.

In a BBC interview in January 2009, he said that he was committed to a two-state solution.
He said: “We need to see a secure Israel alongside a peaceful Palestine.

“Ultimately if we want to see a two-state solution, then there needs to be a partner with which Israel can negotiate and that is why we are so supportive of the efforts of President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.”

In 1999 Mr Alexander visited Israel and the Palestinian territories with LFI.

LFI chair, David Cairns MP, said: “We look forward to working with him and engaging with him on supporting the UK’s close relationship with Israel, promoting a negotiated two state solution, and confronting the threats to regional stability posed by Iran’s illegal nuclear programme and Hamas’ and Hizbollah’s violent militias.”

Last updated: 11:45am, January 21 2011