At Labour’s conference today – a day after many delegates were browbeaten and intimidated into passing support for the party’s ‘dangerous’ new disciplinary rules designed to prevent free speech on the conduct of Israel – delegates have passed a motion condemning Israel’s ‘apartheid’ and violence toward Palestinians. The motion passed on a ‘show of hands’, so overwhelmingly that its opponents didn’t even bother asking for a recount or card vote.
And calling for sanctions – a slap in the face to the Labour right, which likes to claim that the ‘Boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS) movement against the import of or investment in goods and services from illegally-occupied territories is intrinsically antisemitic.
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.
While Labour’s leadership will, of course, ignore this policy as shamelessly as Keir Starmer contradicted conference policy (and his own campaign promises) on nationalising energy, the importance of the motion is clear in the histrionics of right-wing Labour First this morning in its email to supporters:
• VOTE AGAINST THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE MOTION: the motion goes against longstanding party policy in support of a two-state solution with a state of Palestine alongside Israel. Boycotts against Israel only serve to demonise the world’s only Jewish state as a prelude to its destruction. They are opposed by the vast majority of Britain’s Jews.
The result was welcomed by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) – which Labour tried to block from its conference this week – as ‘historic’:
Labour’s conference so far has been marked by a series of rigged votes, aided by betrayals by right-wing unions of their own members and policies – but the strength of feeling on this issue clearly runs so deep that all of the dirty tricks and shameless abuse of democracy by the Labour right was unable to prevent the result.
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