Lib Dems pass motion banning trade with Israeli settlements
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Lib Dems pass motion banning trade with Israeli settlements

Party's foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran, who is of Palestinian descent, welcomed the move accusing Britain of doing 'nothing to stop Israel's continued expansion outside its sovereign territory.'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey giving his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey giving his keynote address at One Canada Square in east London, to his party's annual Lib Dem conference which is being held virtually this year.

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.”

Layla Moran on the campaign trail

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.

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.

 

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