Palestine flags flown as Labour conference backs ‘ethical foreign policy’ motion

Palestine flags flown as Labour conference backs ‘ethical foreign policy’ motion

The resolution called on the party to 'adhere to an ethical policy' when trading with Israel, with a particular focus on stopping arms and settlements trade

Palestine flags flown during Labour conference in 2019 (Screenshot)
Palestine flags flown during Labour conference in 2019 (Screenshot)

Brighton’s conference centre was turned into a sea of Palestinian flags, banners, complete with chants of “Free Palestine” as the conference delegates unanimously adopted a resolution under the heading of “ethical foreign policy” which is likely to have the effect of embracing the boycott of Israeli goods.

The resolution’s adoption followed a trenchant address by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry in which she denounced “strong arm politicians” across the world but picked out, among other leaders from Russia, Hungary and Brazil, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu whom she accused of “trying to turn Israel into an apartheid state”.

Tabled by two constituency parties from Hove and Birkenhead, the resolution calls on Labour “to adhere to an ethical policy on all UK’s trade with Israel, in particular by applying international law on settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories and stopping any arms trade with Israel that is used in violation of the human rights of the Palestinians”.

Presenting the motion, Hove’s Ali Brumbie Bojang said that the two state solution had become “meaningless” and that Netanyahu’s election pledge to annex part of the West Bank was “against international law”. Israel, she said, could not continue to act with impunity. Her “Free Palestine” shout at the conclusion of her remarks brought the flags and banners out and many delegates to their feet.

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Palestine flags flown as Labour conference backs ‘ethical foreign policy’ motion

No delegate spoke against the motion and it was left to a member of Jewish Voice for Labour, Vanessa Stilwell, to utter the by now traditional claim that she had never witnessed antisemitism in Labour, during remarks in which she spoke on behalf of “our Palestinian brothers and sisters”. Such a claim brought the conference to its feet once again.

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, was less forgiving. She told Jewish News: “Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is the home for anti-Jewish racists and Israel haters. It’s depressing but thoroughly unsurprising that Labour has today ended its decades-old opposition to the extremist Israel boycott movement.

“Boycotts do nothing to bring about peace and are designed entirely to demonise Israel. With Corbyn now uniquely singling out the world’s only Jewish state for boycotts, it’s no wonder the Jewish community fears the prospect of him becoming prime minister. This is another dark day in the history of the Labour Party.”




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