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Labour shadow minister suggests party could back BDS movement

Kate Osamor has previously expressed her own support for an Israel boycott, despite it not being official Labour Party policy

    Kate Osamor, Labour's shadow International Development Secretary (Photo: PA Images)
    Kate Osamor, Labour's shadow International Development Secretary (Photo: PA Images)

    Kate Osamor, the Shadow International Development Secretary, has suggested the Labour Party could support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

    Ms Osamor, the MP for Edmonton in North London, has previously expressed her own support for an Israel boycott despite it not being official Labour Party policy.

    Ms Osamor told The House magazine that it would currently be wrong to advocate for BDS “without educating a whole generation that have missed out on that and don’t understand what’s going on”.

    But she said that Labour’s current position against “blanket boycotts” would not necessarily preclude BDS, since it targets companies and institutions “complicit” in the violation of Palestinians’ human rights.

    She added: “Sometimes people make statements but then they don’t look about the history around apartheid, around separation, around people living side by side.

    “For me it’s about raising awareness and bringing more people to a place where they understand ‘what can I do to help?’

    “And at the end of the day it is choice. It’s up to you what produce you buy.”

    Ms Osamor also commented on the criticism the party and pro-Palestine activists face on antisemitism, saying that discussions on Israel should focus "on the state and never on Jewish people".

    In November Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, described BDS as “bigotry against the Israeli nation”, while Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, called it “morally wrong”.

    Ms Osamor later issued a statement in response to the report, run on the PoliticsHome website, saying her quotes were “used selectively from a long and wide-ranging interview”.

    She said: “It is not Labour Party policy to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and I fully support Labour’s commitment to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.”

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