Both Lib Dem leadership candidates have told supporters that they would like to be the first sitting party leader to visit Israel.
Layla Moran MP, who had Palestinian heritage, and Ed Davey MP made the comments in an interview by Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel last week.
Asked about Labour’s antisemitism issues, Davey said the left-wing party “has a long way to go to prove antisemitism has been rooted out,” adding that its response to the pending report on institutional antisemitism claims by the Equality and Human Rights Commission would be telling.
Moran praised new leader Sir Keir Starmer’s “decisive” sacking of shadow cabinet member Rebecca Long-Bailey for retweeting an article alleging that Israelis taught US police how to kneel on the neck of those being arrested, but said it was “not evidence enough that Labour is on top of its antisemitism problem”.
Both candidates, who are vying to succeed Jo Swinson, doubled down on the party’s manifesto commitment to recognise a State of Palestine, with Moran saying the two-state solution was “very vulnerable – it’s critical we give it a lifeline”.
Both side-stepped the invitation to call themselves ‘Zionists’ but neither supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, with Moran saying “it unfortunately does have issues with antisemitism”.
Davey said it was “frustrating” that rival Palestinian factions had not held new elections since 2005, with Moran adding that “nobody should have a 15-year mandate,” in reference to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
“If a future State of Palestine is to prove itself as a respected member of the international community it must hold free, fair and transparent elections, as they become a beacon of democracy to the wider Middle East,” she said.
“It saddens me to see my ancestral home being run in this way and I cannot wait until the day that Palestine can be a free and vibrant democracy.”