OPINION: ‘It’s time for an open and frank dialogue’

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OPINION: ‘It’s time for an open and frank dialogue’

Joan Ryan
Joan Ryan

By Joan Ryan MP & chair, Labour Friends of Israel

Over the coming weeks and months, I intend to begin an open and frank dialogue with Labour’s new leadership. On behalf of LFI’s supporters, I want to do three things.

First, we will make clear to Jeremy Corbyn why some are deeply concerned about statements he has made regarding Israel, as well as some of those with whom he has shared platforms.

Second, we will defend our party’s deep-rooted commitment to Israel and a two-state solution. LFI has been a steadfast friend of Israel for the past six decades. We are proud of its strong social democratic heritage and the vibrant, progressive society it has become.

We are also steadfast in our commitment to a two-state solution: with Israel safe, secure and recognised within its borders living alongside a viable, democratic and independent Palestinian state.

As the Labour Party has long done, we will fight attempts to delegitimise, demonise and isolate Israel and will vigorously oppose the BDS movement.

We will also oppose settlement building in the West Bank, which makes a two-state solution more difficult. Third, we want to ensure Labour’s Middle East policy is one that, if we are the government in 2020, will allow us to play a meaningful role in the region.

A two-state solution can only be achieved by negotiation, compromise and concessions by both sides: so we must be clear that while we expect it of Israel, we must expect it of the Palestinians, too.

In December 1917, a special conference of the Labour Party and the TUC met to draw up a “war aims memorandum” that acknowledged Palestine was a land “to which such of the Jewish people as desired to do so may return and work out their salvation”.

Labour has stood by that commitment to a homeland for the Jewish people for nearly a century – and we will continue to do so.

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