Where does Labour’s new Foreign Secretary David Lammy stand on Israel?

The MP for Tottenham has backed the ICC’s arrest warrant for Netanyahu and called for the proscription of Iran’s IRCG


David Lamm in Beirut during a visit to Lebanon (Getty Images)

When the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan KC, accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant of causing starvation in Gaza, Rishi Sunak moved swiftly to condemn the arrest warrants.

But David Lammy, Shadow Foreign Secretary at the time, supported the ICC’s decision. “Democracies who believe in the rule of law must submit themselves to it,” he said

Lammy’s support for Israel has shifted since October 7, as for many in the Labour party. Shortly after the Hamas attacks, Lammy signed a statement on behalf of the Labour front bench, condemning the massacre as “unprovoked”.

On October 10, he spoke at a Labourr Friends of Israel event, where he said: ”We stand here as Labour Friends of Israel – but I have to say I am proud to live in a country where it doesn’t matter if you are Labour, Liberal Democrat or you are Conservative to stand with the people of Israel”.

The MP for Tottenham abstained from the ceasefire vote called by the Scottish National Party in November 2023 and followed the Labour line shortly urging a “humanitarian pause”.

In April, Lammy called for an immediate ceasfire in Gaza, expressing his “serious concerns about a breach in international humanitarian law” over Israel’s offensive, saying “far too many people have died”.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: "My judgement is if we get a ceasefire, more hostages will be released. That's the first thing, and more aid will get into Gaza to alleviate the famine that's now taken over”. Lammy added, though, that “to get a ceasefire, both sides have to lay down arms,” stressing the importance of bilaterally working toward peace.

Peace in the region formed part of Labour’s manifesto, which called for the recognition of a Palestinian state. The manifesto suggests “a contribution to a renewed peace process which results in a two-state solution”.
Lammy has led calls for the proscription in the UK of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp.

His stance on Israel, though, has drawn criticism from pro-Palestine voices. In May, pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted a speach given by the Foreign Secretary, accusing him of being “complicit in genocide”. Challenging the protesters, Lammy emphasised that his party had “been calling for a ceasefire for months”. He called the protest “shameful and antisemitic”.

Lammy has long worked to challenge antisemitism. After the MP attended an Enough is Enough rally against antisemitism in 2018, he was threatened with deselection by his local party and accused by some of having “stabbed them in the back”.

Speaking more recently, in 2021, at the Limmud Festival, Lammy apologised for nominating Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership in 2015. “It was a mistake and I’m very sorry for that mistake,” he said. The Foreign Secretary said he had never believed Corbyn would be elected leader and that he had regretted nominating him even before the Enough is Enough protest.

“This is a road back,” he told Limmud, speaking about getting the Labour party back to a place where Jews feel welcome. “We are on the road, but the journey is not complete. And I’m afraid, very sadly, it is still the case in some constituency parties there are individuals who, it is clear, still hold deeply antisemitic views,” he said.

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