Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has concluded a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

Thornberry, who impressed the audience with your knowledge and approach at the recent Jewish News-BICOM UK-Israel conference in Westminster, met fellow left-wing parliamentarians from Israel’s opposition and laid a wreath at Yad Vashem. 

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary visited by Israel and the Palestinian territories with Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.  LFI chair Joan Ryan telling the Knesset that “Israel has many friends on both sides of the House of Commons”.

Thornberry said last month that Britain should mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration by recognising the State of Palestine, and at the Jewish News conference on 2 November reiterated Labour’s “unstinting” support for Israel, but during her four-day visit, she said: “We’re very critical of the Israeli government.”

In an interview with Times of Israel, she said the Israeli government had “lost its way,” criticising the continued “misery” of the Palestinians.

She also slammed the “disgraceful” cabinet minister Priti Patel, who was forced to resign last week after holding several meetings with Israeli ministers and officials in August and September, all without British diplomats knowing or attending.

Priti Patel speaking at the Jewish News-BICOM policy conference. Photo credit: Marc Morris Photography

Thornberry said Patel had been “behaving like a silly woman who was just working outside her brief and not being professional,” adding that she was conducting her own freelance foreign policy.

During Thornberry’s tour, she visited a kibbutz on the Gaza border, while on Remembrance Sunday, she laid a wreath for the war dead at the British Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. 

At the Westminster conference honouring 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, Thornberry spoke about the “changing threats” to Israel, from military warfare to terrorism. 

However, she said: “While the threats have changed, the underlying theme has not, and that is the denial of Israel’s right to exist. There should be no place in modern society and – let me stress – no place in the Labour Party for anyone who holds that type of abhorrent view.”