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‘Success’ as Labour plans to drop hostility to Israel

Draft text to be put before the party’s national policy forum in Brighton reiterates support for a two-state solution in the region but avoids any direct criticism of Israel.

    Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry
    Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry

    The Labour party is set to ditch demands for the “immediate” recognition of a Palestinian state along with any criticism of “illegal” Israeli settlements in policies due to be debated at its annual conference next month.

    Draft text to be put before the party’s national policy forum in Brighton reiterates support for a two-state solution in the region but avoids any direct criticism of Israel.

    One senior Jewish Labour source told the JC the wording was “better than the election manifesto and a bit of a success”.

    The policy, which is expected to be heavily criticised by anti-Zionist groups within the party, reads: “In Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution: a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.”

    The source added: “The draft text seems to mark the return of what can be described as the classic Labour Zionist position. There is a commitment to a ‘secure’ Israel, which is crucial.”

    Despite attempts by supporters of the hard-left Momentum group to establish explicit anti-Israel policies in Labour branches across the country, party leaders have largely devoted their attention to domestic issues.

    Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, delivered a carefully worded speech during a Commons debate on Israel and the Palestinians last month, which seemed to suggest a new desire for the party to take a more balanced position.

    Ahead of the general election, Labour faced criticism from pro-Israel groups over its “biased” leaked draft manifesto stance on Israel and the Palestinians.

    The initial version, focusing on Israeli actions and making no mention of Palestinian terrorism, led to a row in the Shadow Cabinet and the final manifesto made clear the party would call for “an end to rocket and terror attacks”.

    But it also pledged a Labour government would “immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

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