Labour’s leaked manifesto ‘detached from reality’ say community leaders

Labour’s leaked manifesto ‘detached from reality’ say community leaders

Community chiefs say opposition party disproportionately blame Israel for Middle East conflict, and ignore Palestinian violence in draft policy document

Jeremy Corbyn surrounded by Labour MPs and supporters
Jeremy Corbyn surrounded by Labour MPs and supporters

Jewish leaders have said Labour’s leaked manifesto is “detached from reality”, saying it disproportionately blames Israel for the lack of a peace deal and ignores Palestinian violence.

The party’s 2017 manifesto draft, which was leaked to the press before being rubber-stamped by Labour’s National Executive Committee on Thursday, says a Labour government would support Palestinian state recognition at the United Nations and highlight the “humanitarian crisis” in Palestinian territories.

The document, published on political website Guido Fawkes on Wednesday night, ahead of a confirmation process on Thursday, also brands settlement-building in the West Bank as “wrong, illegal and a threat to the peace process”.

Jewish leaders reacted with anger and incredulity on Thursday morning, and called for the manifesto to be less one-sided while there was still time for amendments.

Board of Deputies’ senior vice-president Richard Verber said: “We hope that the final version is substantially different as this Labour policy appears to place all the onus on Israel when it comes to achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It lacks any mention of terrorism, incitement or indeed political will – which suggests complete detachment from reality.”

He added that the document “peddles the myth that peace will be achieved through unilateral moves in international organisations such as the UN,” arguing: “Peace can only be achieved by the two parties themselves.”

The pro-Palestinian wording is far more expressive than Labour’s last election manifesto written under the leadership of Ed Miliband, but maintains its call for a two-state solution, with “a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine”.

But on settlements, it reads: “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.”

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

This stands in stark contrast to the election manifesto of the Jewish Labour Movement, which states that “all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve”. It adds: “Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution.”

Elsewhere, parents of children at Immanuel College would face paying much higher fees under a Labour government, which has promised to remove the VAT exemption on private school fees.

On faith schools, the draft manifesto is quiet, but Labour does say that it would allow local authorities “to require joined up admissions policies across schools… to ensure that no child slips through the net”.

The manifesto also promises that Labour will deal with anti-Semitism with “a firm political will” and “adequate resources,” adding: “Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise once more and we are committed to combating this trend.”

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