Israel has ‘perverted’ understanding of the right to self-defence, says MP Naz Shah

Labour parliamentarians lash out at the Jewish state during a debate


Labour MPs have accused Israel of holding human rights in contempt and having a “perverted” understanding of the right to self-defence during a debate on Israel-Palestine on Monday. 

Some Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and SNP parliamentarians also called for the immediate recognition of a Palestinian state.

The debate was held in response to two e-petitions: one calling for recognition of Palestinian statehood and the other urging government to block all trade with Israel and, in particular, arms. 

Labour MP Afzal Khan urged Middle East Minister James Cleverly to end arms trading with Israel. 

Mr Khan also claimed the Jewish state held “complete contempt for international law and human rights”. 

Directly addressing Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Bradford MP Naz Shah said if any more “Palestinian blood is unjustly spilled”, she would push for Israel to be tried for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.

The MP also described Israel’s understanding of the right to self-defence as “perverted”.

Labour Friends of Palestine Chair, Julie Elliott MP, called for a boycott on goods coming out of illegal settlements in the West Bank and urged immediate recognition of Palestinian statehood. 

Meanwhile, MPs for the SNP backed a boycott of West Bank goods but stopped short of endorsing ban on products from across Israel. 

Speaking against the two petitions, John Howell MP, Vice Chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, said: "It is regrettable that the petitions being debated today do not reflect the reality that Israel is a beacon of hope in a region of instability and an important ally of the United Kingdom."

Bury South MP Christian Wakeford said he was “deeply concerned” by the substance of the petitions, describing the language used within them as “inflammatory” and in danger of breeding “misunderstanding, hatred and hostility”.

Labour Friends of Israel Chair Steve McCabe reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution but argued that conditions for statehood under international law have not yet been met in Palestine. 

Responding to contributions made by all MPs, Mr Cleverly said the government remains committed to a two-state solution.

The minister also claimed that all UK arms exports were assessed thoroughly, and licenses remain under careful and continual review, as is standard practice.

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