Liz Kendall

Liz Kendall

One of the candidate’s for Labour leader has clearly distanced herself from her party’s backing for a parliamentary motion to recognise Palestine last year, saying she “didn’t think it was the right thing to do”.

The decision, only weeks after Ed Miliband criticised Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza, was a key reason for the tensions between Labour and many supporters of Israel in the lead-up to the General; Election. Candidates at this week’s hustings spoke of the need to rebuild ties.

Acknowledging a feeling of “hostility” among some community members towards the party she hopes to lead, Liz Kendall, who abstained at the time, said “the way to achieve peace and a two-state solution is through negotiation, not through passing resolutions in the House of Commons or the United Nations.

“I don’t think we would have done that had we been in government – and i believe a responsible Opposition that seeks to become the government should behave in the same way, particularly on such an important issue as this.” She believed it was “extremely important” that links were restored with the Jewish community and felt that “we have a huge job to do to rebuild relations.”

Andy Burnham, who voted in favour of the Palestine resolution, seemed to have second thoughts. He told the JW3 audience: “I don’t think it was handled well: I don’t think it should have been a whipped vote. And the motion lacked balance. Labour always needs to be clear about the two-state solution and every statement needs to see things from both sides and have balance built in to it. I don’t think we managed that on that occasion and relationships [with the Jewish community] were damaged.”