Freeze on arms sales to Israel and probe of Gaza deaths backed in Labour motion

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Labour ConferencePro-Palestine motion

Freeze on arms sales to Israel and probe of Gaza deaths backed in Labour motion

Motion was unanimously carried after hundreds of Palestinian flags flown during a lively debate at event in Liverpool

Palestinian flags fly during the Labour debate
Palestinian flags fly during the Labour debate

Hundreds of Palestinian flags were flown on the main floor of Labour’s Party conference as delegates passed a motion demanding a freeze on arms sales to Israel and an investigation into the deaths of Palestinians on the Gaza border.

Constituency Labour parties earlier this week chose to debate Palestine with 188,000 votes – making it the only international issue to receive a dedicated debate In Liverpool. Yemen was not debated after received 790 votes.

The debate and motion – that was unanimously carried by a show of hands – focused heavily on the Great Return March this summer when more than 160 Palestinians were killed in a series of demonstrations, as Israel used live fire to prevent breaches of the border. On the deadliest day, when 60 died at the border, Hamas admitted that 50 were its members.

The text, put forward by Harlow CLP, demanded an independent international investigation into the “use of force against Palestinian demonstrators”, a freeze on UK arms sales to Israel and an end to the “blockade and closure” of Gaza. Following the total halt to UNRWA funding by America, it called for the development of further UK links with the agency was set up to aid Palestinians after Israel’s creation.

Colin Monehen from Harlow CLP, who moved the motion, asked the packed room to reflect on the different experiences that could be be expected by a Palestinian and a Jewish baby born now in Jerusalem.

“Silence is complicity,” he said. “This tragedy happened on our watch. We cannot close our eyes or turn away. Our movement has a tradition of standing up for the oppressed. Because it’s the easy thing but it’s the right thing to do. The tragedy of the Palestinian people goes on.”

His speech was followed by loud chants of ‘Palestine will be free’, as flags was waved throughout the room. One delegate took to the platform to decry “double standards” after he was asked to take down an EU flag earlier in the day.

Zahid Ali from Wolverhampton, who seconded the motion, described Gaza as “an open air jail” and characterised the border protests as “broad based and popular. They’re will willing to die to be heard. We want to send the message that we hear them.” He claimed the IDF was able to act with immunity and the UK government was “complicit” when it sells arms to Israel.

In common with almost every speaker, he demanded a freeze on arms sales and an end to the blockade of Gaza. Israel was also accused by several speakers of “apartheid” policies.

One delegate decried the living conditions and the infrastructure of Palestinians, and alleged hundreds of people are being killed “regularly”.

No speaker referred to Hamas, terrorism or made any demands of the Palestinian leadership during the debate, which was chaired by Jewish outgoing NEC member Rhea Wolfson. She kicked it off by warning delegates about the importance of language on such an issue and has been praised for intervening after one speaker, Hilary Wise from Ealing Central and Acton, spoke of an “orchestrated” campaign.

She told the conference that she had never seen such a campaign of “slurs and accusations. A few are justified. Most are not. If you want to know how the orchestration works you can watch the al-Jazeera programme called The lobby.”

After Wolfson warned her, she continued: “Watch the programme to see what we’re up against.” She then turned her fire on the media on “amplifying” allegations, saying: “Shame on you. What has happened to investigative journalism?”

Steve Lapsley, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, condemned the withdrawal of UNRWA funding and described Israel’s allying with “demagogues” like Trump and Hungary’s Viktor Orban as a ‘disgrace’, pandering to nationalism that is a “far greater existential threat than anything Labour can do”.

He said there was “much to support” in the motion but condemned the sole focus on Israel over any other conflict or “right wing regime”. He said the conference should also speak out over the Syrian conflict.

Lapsley, who along with other Jewish delegates wore a kippah to emphasise his pride, condemned his local MP Chris Williamson for sharing platforms with expelled activists.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

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.

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.

Easy access

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.

read more: