Keir Starmer has opposed Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, saying that it could be detrimental to security in the region.
But the Labour leader would not be drawn on whether the UK should sanction Israel if it does go ahead with the move.
Jeremy Corbyn’s successor made the comment after speaking to members of the public in Barnet over Zoom on Wednesday afternoon.
In a call with reporters after the Q&A session, Starmer told Jewish News: “I don’t agree with annexation and I don’t think it’s good for security in the region, and I think it’s very important that we say that.
“Whether sanctions follow is another matter but at the moment let’s resolve this in the proper way. But this is not good for security in the region. That should be a paramount consideration.”
When pressed further, he added: “There needs to be a strong working relationship where we are able to exchange views frankly, as you would with an ally and on some of these issues, a frank exchange is what we most need, I think.”
More than 40 prominent faith leaders and public figures put their names to an anti-annexation letter, published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week.
But the Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl said last month that the umbrella group does not “in good faith support one view over another.”
“Rather we are here to facilitate this debate from all sides. We also have to take into account that Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East – has an elected Government which reflects the will of Israeli voters. We do, as ever, emphasise our continued belief in a negotiated two-state solution, leading to a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state,” she added.