Labour’s leadership are fighting to prevent any motion that goes against party policy on Israel from being debated at next week’s conference, according to party sources.
The conference steering committee ruled on Tuesday that a number of motions on the issue were among the topics that could progress to the next stage of a process which will determine what reaches the conference floor in Manchester. Among them is believed to be one from the ASLEF union which advocates an end to the arms trade with Israel.
A Labour source, who is close to the process, said: “The party leadership is keen to avoid any references to BDS or arms embargos being debated at conference because they don’t believe in such moves and Ed Miliband has consistently spoken out against boycotts. But supporters of Israel inside party are braced for motions to reach floor which are highly critical of settlement policy and Operation Protective Edge.”
A priority ballot will now be held among delegates to decide which topics will be discussed, with the unions and rank-and-file members each selecting four topics. While it’s believed the unions are likely to prioritise work matters, the source said it “could go either way” with members. The final stage will see similar motions amalgamated.
While motions passed by conference are technically considered as party policy, previous leaders have not been bound by votes such as support for the scrapping of trident.
A pro-Israel labour activist said: “This will be a difficult conference for supporters of Israel. It’s not just about potential debate on the conference floor but also there will be a number of fringe meetings away from the conference floor which will deal with the Israel-Palestine issue, covering a whole spectrum of opinions including some deeply hostile to Israel.”