The Liberal Democrats have voted overwhelmingly in favour of “a ban on UK trade with the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory” at their annual conference.
Welcoming the passing of a lengthy motion dealing with Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran accused the UK government of doing “nothing” to stop Israel’s “continued expansion” outside its “sovereign territory.”
She tweeted: “The UK has condemned the settlements. It distinguishes between the settlements and the sovereign territory of Israel in its trade policy.
“But, despite continued expansion, the UK and the international community does nothing.”
Moran said she was a “firm believer of a two state solution” but she said a “new approach is desperately needed” by the UK to ensure that this scenario materialised.
In an occasionally fiery debate on Monday the conference – which took placed behind an online paywall this year – delegates backed a motion which committed the party to recognising two state solution with secure boundaries for Israel and Palestine based on 1967 lines.
Addressing the issue of settlements the motion committed the party to declare “illegal Israeli settlements represent a de facto annexation of Palestinian territory and that such settlements are a major but not sole factor in making the search for a listing peace ever more difficult to achieve.”
The pro-peace group Yachad were amongst the first to congratulate the Lib Dems “for taking a stance against illegal settlements and occupation.”
In a statement the group said the motion “isn’t an endorsement of BDS, nor is it anti-Israel.”
Moran had been keen to hail what she claimed was the Lib Dems “radical new approach” to helping resolve the conflict in the Middle East.
She tweeted after the conference vote that “at the heart of our new policy is increased cooperation, using trade as a tool for peace and upholding international law and human rights.”
Moran added: “We want more trade with Israel and Palestine, more resources dedicated towards peace – via the creation of a peace fund to foster trust between communities, and also a ban on UK trade with the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.
Her motion had been backed by both Lib Dem Friends of Israel and Friends of Palestine groups prior to the conference.
Well done to @LibDems for taking a stance against illegal settlements and occupation. This motion isn't an endorsement of BDS, nor is it anti-Israel.
The UK gov opposes settlement expansion, which breaches international law and makes Palestinian daily life impossibly difficult. https://t.co/gx3w6BaUY6
— Yachad UK (@YachadUK) September 20, 2021
Condemning violence from both sides “whoever the perpetrators may be” the motion called for a new peace process to be begun, especially through working with partners in the European Union and with US President Biden.
It called on those states who had yet to recognise Israel to do so, expressed regret at the cancelling of Palestinian elections, and called for Hamas to halt discrimination against the LGBT community and against women.
There was a further call for both Israel and the Palestinians to “do more” to stop incitement and hate speech in the media.
The successful motion also called for respect of the right of the International Criminal Court to investigate “possible international crimes in Israel and Palestine.”
It also urged continued adherence to the status quo agreement on the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.