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Board challenge to Oxfam

    Oxfam has defended its position on Israel following criticism from the Board of Deputies.

    A Board delegation, led by president Vivian Wineman, met the charity's chief executive Barbara Stocking and Middle East regional director to discuss its approach to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

    Mr Wineman attacked Oxfam’s stance on Israel’s security measures and the restrictions on movement in and out of Gaza. He said the charity had failed to emphasise Israel’s concerns and had ignored factors which affect Gaza but are outside Israel's control.

    Board chief executive Jon Benjamin questioned Oxfam’s decision to work with organisations which do not support Israel’s right to exist.

    The charity said it would refuse to work with any group which promoted violence, publicly denies Israel’s right to exist, or has links to terrorism.

    While stopping short of supporting a boycott of all Israeli goods, Oxfam said it considered Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal and that products from the settlements should be labelled to distinguish them.

    Oxfam said it had worked to improve its explanations of its position on the issues following previous discussions with the Board.

    Following the meeting, which took place earlier this month, Mr Wineman said: “We found Oxfam receptive to our suggestions and willing to take on board our concerns. We now hope to work with them to turn that receptiveness into concrete changes.”

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