Labour candidate claims arms sales to Israel will stop ‘immediately’ if party takes power

Jewish MP Fabian Hamilton was speaking at a hustings at the Baab-Ul-Ilm mosque in Leeds


Fabian Hamilton: Claimed arms sales to Israel would stop 'immediately'

Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP for Leeds North East, has said arms sales to Israel will stop after the Labour party takes power.

Hamilton, who was speaking during a hustings at the Baab-Ul-Ilm mosque in Leeds, was asked by an audience member if “we should we be selling arms to Israel?”

According to the Daily Telegraph the former shadow foreign minister replied: “On the issue of arms sales, if we win the election next week we will stop arms sales to Israel immediately.

“We don’t supply a huge number of arms, but we will stop them because we’re complicit if we don’t. We will also stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which is our largest client…”

Hamilton, who is seeking re election, also said Labour needed to be “consistent” in its foreign policy.

He said: “If we’re stopping arms sales to Israel, which we will, we’ve been very clear about that, we will stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which we should have done some time ago.

“Obviously some people believe that Starmer’s a liar but it’s actually David Lammy who’s introduced this policy.

“Hopefully he will be foreign secretary if we win the election and he has been very clear about implementing this. I know [him] much better than I know Starmer, and I know Lammy will actually do what he says.”

The Labour Party told the Telegraph it had not called for a halt to arms sales.

A party spokesman said: “Labour has been clear that the government must uphold both our domestic and international legal obligations when it comes to arms exports.

“Despite repeatedly calling for at least a summary to be published, we have not had access to the government’s legal advice and not called for a halt to arms sales. If Labour wins the election, we will assess the most up-to-date legal advice.”

Hamilton told the Telegraph: “At the hustings at Baab-Ul-Ilm, I had the displeasure of being on a panel with the Workers’ Party candidate who spent his time spouting complete lies about Labour, Keir Starmer and our position on the conflict in the Middle East.

“I made clear that Keir Starmer had not lied and Labour has clearly called for a ceasefire. It’s right that we must follow that with an immediate suspension of arms sales to Israel, following its incursion into Rafah.

“Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children have died in the conflict with the Saudi-led coalition. British arms have been used there so their sale must be suspended for the same reasons.”

Hamilton’s comments have sparked confusion about what Labour would do in government.

Hamilton, who is Jewish, served as the shadow minister for peace and disarmament under Jeremy Corbyn between 2016 and 2020.

Since then then he has acknowledged he took the “wrong” approach over antisemitism in the party and that he regrets damaging relations with the local Jewish community.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post in 2020 Hamilton told the paper: “I deeply regret damaging my personal relationship with the Leeds Jewish community – many of whom I have worked closely with over the last 23 years as Labour MP for Leeds North East – and many of whom remain as good friends.”

He hoped “those in the Jewish community who have been so hurt by the disgraceful events of the last four years feel they are able to work with me once again and I will do all I can to rebuild a fruitful relationship.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive