Labour manifesto’s ‘bias’ stance on Israel changed to echo 2015 version

Labour manifesto’s ‘bias’ stance on Israel changed to echo 2015 version

Opposition party's commitment on the Middle East changed after a draft was adopted with a 'bias' narrative

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

 (Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. (Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

Labour’s manifesto commitment on Israel and the Palestinians has been changed to echo the 2015 version – after a draft adopted a “bias” narrative.

The Jewish Labour Movement wrote to all members of the shadow cabinet and national executive committee involved in the final decision-making process after a leaked draft sparked uproar.

The party’s 2017 manifesto draft had said a Labour government would support Palestinian state recognition at the United Nations and highlight the “humanitarian crisis” in Palestinian Territories. The document also brands settlement-building in the West Bank as “wrong, illegal and a threat to the peace process”.

While it urges a two-state solution, it adopts a distinctly Palestinian narrative in saying: “The expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank is not only wrong and illegal, but represents a threat to the very viability of the hopes of securing a successful outcome of the peace process.

“We cannot accept the continued humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and we will support Palestinian recognition at the UN.”

A spokesman for Emily Thornberry said: “leaked language” on which stories were based on is “several versions out of date, and was originally written by a junior official only as a place-holder to assist in the drafting process.:

“The actual manifesto text on Israel and Palestine was agreed by Emily and colleagues on Tuesday evening, a full 24 hours before this old leaked language emerged, and it bears no relation to the language in that leak.”

It’s understood Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry had signed off a form of wording far more similar to the last manifesto under Ed Miliband, which called for both sides to avoid actions detrimental to peace.

But an NEC source has told the Jewish News that the wording to appear in the final version, published next week, will now closely reflect the 2015 manifesto, with an additional line on recognition of Palestine.

Urging a rethink, JLM chair Jeremy Newmark had warned the draft text “appears partisan, imbalanced and is not aligned with existing Party policy”.

Board of Deputies’ senior vice-president Richard Verber earlier said the draft “lacks any mention of terrorism, incitement or indeed political will – which suggests complete detachment from reality.”

The final version of the manifesto will also include explicit mention of the Jewish contribution to World War One after the draft Mentioned Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims but not Jewish soldiers fighting for Britain.

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