Labour’s leaked manifesto ‘more anti-Israel than Emily Thornberry signed off on’

Labour’s leaked manifesto ‘more anti-Israel than Emily Thornberry signed off on’

Senior figures in the party are pushing for Labour to adopt a more balanced position on the Middle East conflict

Emily Thornberry speaking at the 2017 Labour conference
Emily Thornberry speaking at the 2017 Labour conference

Senior figures in Labour’s shadow cabinet are pushing for Labour to adopt a more balanced position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than contained in a leaked draft of the document, Jewish News understands.

This newspaper has learnt that the position – which appears to place the responsibility for the lack of progress towards peace solely on Israel – was significantly altered from that signed off by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.

The party’s 2017 manifesto draft, which is due to be 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. Reference to a humanitarian crisis is also used in the document in relation to Syria and Yemen.

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.”

But a senior Jewish Labour source said it’s understood 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.

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 Jewish Labour Movement has also written to all NEC members and those involved in the final decision-making in the manifesto.

The draft 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.”

Concern has also been expressed about a paragraph in the manifesto which commits Labour to continuing to mark the centenary of the First World War, referring specifically to the contribution to Sikh, Hindu and Muslim soldiers in the war effort. No reference is made to Jewish soldiers – 40,000 of whom fought for Britain.

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