‘Mark Balfour centenary, but don’t celebrate it’, says Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary

Emily Thornberry says best way to mark Balfour centenary is to "recognise Palestine."


Emily Thornberry has said Britain should not celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

In an interview published on Monday, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary claimed the “most important” way to mark the anniversary was “to recognise Palestine”.

Ms Thornberry, who is due to attend a gala Balfour dinner in central London later this week, said: “I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration but I think we have to mark it because I think it was a turning point in the history of that area and I think probably the most important way of marking it is to recognise Palestine”. 

In an interview with Middle East Eye, Ms Thornberry was asked about her decision to attend the dinner, alongside Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

She said: “I am going to a Balfour meeting with Palestinians as well.”

Stating that she remains a member of both Labour’s Friends of Israel and Friends of Palestine groups, Ms Thornberry said the Israeli government had “lost its way” and claimed they were responsible for the failure of any viable two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Asked about Labour policy towards Israel, Ms Thornberry said she did not support a call by some on the far-left for a full boycott of goods from the Jewish state.

But she added: “It’s against our law for British firms to be investing in the West Bank and that has to be made clear.

“In Alexandra Palace in north London there were estate agents who were selling holiday flats on the West Bank.

“That should not have happened. That should have been stopped.”

Ms Thornberry also spoke out in support of the controversial Al Jazeera TV documentary which claimed to show the Israeli Embassy in London was involved in attempts to undermine UK government ministers.

She said it was “unacceptable” that the government had not “called out” Israel on the matter.

Ms Thornberry said the Labour Party was continuing to look at the issue and had yet to decided what action to take on the matter.

She said: “I know that the Labour Party is looking at it.

“We noted the fact that Ofcom did not uphold the complaint… this is not being laid to rest now.

“We have not decided what we are going to do next, but this is not something that we are going to drop.”

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