Anti-Israel motions off the agenda at Labour’s annual conference

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Anti-Israel motions off the agenda at Labour’s annual conference

Labour NEC member Luke Akehurst confirms 'not a single CLP has submitted a motion' on Israel and the Palestinians for debate at the Liverpool conference in contrast to the fanatical pro-Palestinian mood of the Jeremy Corbyn era

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Labour leader Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria arrive in Liverpool for the start of the party's 2022 annual conference
Labour leader Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria arrive in Liverpool for the start of the party's 2022 annual conference

Not a single constituency Labour Party (CLP) submitted an anti-Israel motion as their chosen topic of debate at this year’s annual conference in Liverpool, Jewish News can reveal.

In a clear signal of the change in direction of the party under Keir Starmer’s leadership, the anti-Israel sentiment, and Palestinian flag waving, that had dominated conferences under previous leader Jeremy Corbyn appears to have been replaced with concern for other issues for debate.

Labour national executive committee (NEC) member Luke Akehurst welcomed the change, saying:”We have gone from period where there was deliberately provocative debates about Israel involving seas of Palestinian flags being waved on the conference floor, to where not a single CLP has submitted a motion about this issue.

“This gives me hope that once day we will be able to return to having balanced and rational debate about Israel and the Palestinians at Labour conference.”

In 2018, at the height of Corbyn’s control of the the party, hundreds of Palestinian flags were held aloft by delegates, who voted to debate the issue over the crisis in the NHS.

Vicious anti-Israel rhetoric also dogged the debate on the conflict.

Even at last year’s conference, a hardline anti-Israel motion, which condemned “the on-going Nakba in Palestine” was backed by delegates attended the annual gathering.

Delegates wave Palestinian flags at the Labour Party’s annual conference in 2018. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Motions expected to be discussed by delegates on Monday on the main conference floor include issues such as tackling the cost of living crisis, proportional representation and Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Every CLP in the country is able to submit a motion for debate at the conference, based around the wishes of local members.

The Labour leadership is hoping to show the country that the party is ready to govern the country at the start of their 2022 annual conference.

In a further sign of his belief in Labour as a patriotic party, Starmer began proceedings on Sunday with a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the singing of the national anthem within the conference arena.

This year’s conference, which runs until Wednesday, clashes with Rosh Hashanah meaning many Jewish members will stay away.

The conference dates are decided by the Home Office  in advance, and clashes with religious festivals cannot be prevented.

On Sunday, ahead of the start of Rosh Hashanah the Antisemitism Policy Trust was holding an event featuring Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner and London mayor Sadiq Khan discussing the debate around online safety legislation.

Labour Friends of Israel are also staging a reception on Tuesday, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves speaking along with Israeli Knesset member Emilie Moatti.

Meanwhile, sources close to Keir Starmer told Jewish News there would be”no complacency” amongst the Labour leadership over the need to continue the fight against antisemitic members of the party.

Speaking ahead of the start of the party’s annual conference in Liverpool, the well-placed source said the number of disciplinary cases involving claims of anti-Jewish racism being dealt with by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) remained “unacceptably high.”

“There is no complacency about the scale of the problem still to be tackled,” added the party insider.

“Although significant progress continues to be made.”



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