Starmer has denounced the world’s leading Human Rights Organisation – Amnesty International – over a forensic report they compiled which concludes they Israel is an Apartheid State.
Starmer again misrepresents his own personal views with those of the Labour Party when he says, “that is not the Labour Party’s position.”
Starmer’s interview with the JC
In an interview conducted by the JC it was put to him that “The heart of Labour’s difficulties with Jews lies in its feelings towards Israel. In February, Amnesty International branded the country an “apartheid state” despite evidence to the contrary, including Arab ministers in government. Many Labour members, especially on the left, enthusiastically embraced this label.”
Did Sir Keir agree with them? “No. I’ve been very clear about that,” he says, without missing a beat. “That is not the Labour Party position.” He presented his stance at the Labour Friends of Israel lunch before Chanukah, he adds, which was strongly and unapologetically pro-Israel.
It’s all very well to talk this way to a friendly crowd, I counter. But would he say as much at party conference, in front of members from all factions?
“Yes, I’ve got no reason not to,” he says. Recalling the moment when party conference voted to accept the EHRC’s advice to set up an independent complaints process for antisemitism, he adds: “It was an emotional moment for the Labour Party to make those rule changes.
The problem here is either Starmer is a compulsive liar or he is foolishly trying to mislead the JW. The truth is the Labour Party passed a motion in its most recent conference to say Israel was in fact an apartheid state.
It could be that Starmer is just a little dictator and up until now, his authoritarian rule would concur with that theory. Either way, the evidence seems to suggest he really does not care what motions are passed at conference unless, of course, they are the ones he wants to implement, as we recently witnessed with his denial of the conference motion for £15 minimum wage.
The Amnesty report states: “Palestinians have been calling for an understanding of Israel’s rule as apartheid for over two decades and have been at the forefront of advocacy in that regard at the UN.
Over time, research conducted by Palestinian human rights organizations, and more recently some Israeli human rights groups, has contributed to broader international recognition of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.
Yet states, particularly Israel’s Western allies, have been reluctant to heed these calls, and have refused to take any meaningful action against Israel. Meanwhile, Palestinian organizations and human rights defenders who have been leading anti-apartheid advocacy and campaigning efforts have faced growing Israeli repression for years as punishment for their work.
In October 2021, the Israeli authorities escalated their attacks on Palestinian civil society even further by misusing counterterrorism legislation to outlaw six prominent organizations, including three major human rights groups, to shut down their offices and to detain and prosecute their employees.
In parallel, Israel has subjected Israeli organizations denouncing apartheid and other serious human rights violations against Palestinians to smears and delegitimization campaigns”. You can read the full reports here
In case you missed it, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) lately issued a report that finds Israel’s treatment of Palestinians on the West Bank amounts to the crime of apartheid. The study, “Apartheid in the Occupied West Bank: A Legal Analysis of Israel’s Actions” came out on February 28 in the wake of five longer, wider-ranging, apartheid reports published since 2020 – and just before the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories published another apartheid report on March 21.
Labour’s own conference motion. Sept 2021
At the most recent Labour Party Conference in September 2021, Labour Delegates voted for the Statement:
“Conference also notes the unequivocal 2021 reports by B’Tselem & HRW that conclude unequivocally that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN”.
The reports referenced were made before the Amnesty report.
The motion, not backed by the leadership, recognised that Israel has implemented an apartheid system and demanded an end to the UK arms trade with Israel.
At the end of the morning session of conference, delegates passed by a show of hands a composite on Israel and Palestine, despite Steve McCabe MP, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, urging them not to on the grounds that the motion was “too shouty, too angry, too one-sided and not at all focused on the search for peace”.
McCabe claimed the composite was “completely hostile to the people of Israel” and ignored the actions of the new coalition government in Israel. “If Labour had adopted this approach in Northern Ireland, we would never have got to the Good Friday agreement,” he claimed.
But the truth is if the world did not adopt sanctions on South Africa it would not have stopped apartheid.
The motion points to recent human rights reports showing “unequivocally” that Israel has committed the UN-recognised crime of apartheid as evidenced by Israeli rights organisation B’tselem and Human Rights Watch.
The motion supports Palestinian civil society calls for “effective measures” against the building of settlements, demands the end to the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and supports the right of Palestinians to return to their homes.
The full motion (emphases added) reads:
Conference condemns the ongoing Nakba [catastrophe] in Palestine, Israel’s militarised violence attacking the Al Aqsa mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza.
Together with the de facto annexation of Palestinian land by accelerated settlement building and statements of Israel’s intention to proceed with annexation, it is ever clearer that Israel is intent on eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination.
Conference notes the TUC 2020 Congress motion describing such settlement building and annexation as ‘another significant step’ towards the UN Crime of Apartheid, and calling on the European & international trade union movement to join the international campaign to stop annexation and end apartheid.
Conference also notes the unequivocal 2021 reports by by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch that conclude unequivocally that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.
Conference welcomes the International Criminal Court decision to hold an inquiry into abuses committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 2014.
Conference resolves that action is needed now due to Israel’s continuing illegal actions and that Labour should adhere to an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel, including stopping any arms trade used to violate Palestinian human rights and trade with illegal Israeli settlements.
Conference resolves to support “effective measures” including sanctions, as called for by Palestinian civil society, against actions by the Israeli government that are illegal according to international law; in particular to ensure that Israel stops the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, brings down the Wall and respects the right of Palestinian people, as enshrined in international law, to return to their homes.
Conference resolves that the Labour Party must stand on the right side of history and abide by these resolutions in its policy, communications and political strategy.