Labour’s Stephen Kinnock has been reprimanded for using a House of Commons debate about the situation in the West Bank to accuse Israel of behaviour “tantamount to profiting from the proceeds of crime”.
Lisa Nandy, the party’s shadow foreign secretary, confirmed at a meeting with Jewish communal organisations last week that Mr Kinnock had been given a “dressing down” over a speech made on September 24.
Sources say Sir Keir Starmer was “infuriated” with the tone of the MPs speech.
Labour did not deny reports yesterday that Mr Kinnock, son of ex-party leader Neil Kinnock, had been reprimanded for remarks which also included calling on the UK to “ban all products that originate from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories”.
The incident is embarrassing for Sir Keir on the eve of the publication of a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is expected to be damning on the question of how the party under predecessor Jeremy Corbyn handled antisemitism.
An EHRC spokesperson confirmed to the JC that the report would be published “shortly”.
When he took office in April, Sir Keir won plaudits from the Jewish community for vowing that he would “tear out this poison [of antisemitism] by its roots”.
Under his predecessor, Jewish groups accused the party of repeatedly singling out Israel for criticism while failing to condemn the behaviour of China or Iran.
The leadership’s anger over Mr Kinnock’s comments emerged after an online meeting last week between Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy and the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council.
Sources claim that at the meeting, Ms Nandy – Mr Kinnock’s immediate boss – confirmed to the Jewish leaders that he had been given “a dressing down” for his tone in a Commons debate on September 24.
They said Ms Nandy confirmed there was anger at the very top of the party over Mr Kinnock's choice of words and his suggestion that Labour had hardened its policy towards Israel and the settlements.
One told the Mail on Sunday: “Lisa made no secret of the fact that she and the leader were angry with Kinnock - especially after all the work that has been done to try to restore Labour's relationship with the Jewish community.
“At the meeting, there was agreement that there is nothing wrong with criticising the Israeli government for some of its actions - but only if this is proportionate with criticism of other countries in the world.
“Mr Kinnock has a long record of singling out Israel with over-the-top criticism.”
Allies of Mr Kinnock, former chairman of the British-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, stressed last night that he had secured the Commons debate long before he was appointed to Sir Keir’s front bench.
They also stressed that he had made clear to fellow MPs that his anger over the situation in the Occupied Territories was not “about being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine – this is about striving for peace, justice and security for all”.
The EHRC report is expected to offer a damning assessment of Labour's disciplinary processes, including its handling of high-profile cases including that involving former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and remarks he made in 2017 about Adolf Hitler and Zionism.
A Labour spokesperson declined to comment.