LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to continue the party’s battle against antisemitism.
He told the Labour Friends of Israel fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool: “We will continue to root out antisemitism wherever it shows its ugly face in our party and our country.”
And, in an apparent reference to his time in predecessor Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Sir Keir stated: “When I took over the leadership of the Labour Party, you took the chance to give me the space to judge me on what I did and not on what I said, and you didn’t have to do that after the years that had gone before.
“You allowed me, what I asked for, the space to demonstrate what I would do.
“We wouldn’t be here today with a changed Labour Party, a remade Labour Party facing an electorate with confidence if you hadn’t done that.
“When we go into government, and we will, you’ll be inscribed on the foundation stone as part of this story, part of this journey.”
Sir Keir had earlier told the main conference about the antisemitism which had infested the party under Corbyn.
He said: “I knew when I became leader of this party we had a big task before us. We had to root out antisemitism, and we have made progress, but I’m not complacent. We will never, ever end this work.
“We have made progress, but there is more to do.”
He also sent his best wishes to Labour’s Israeli sister party, led by Merav Michaeli, for the upcoming elections on November 1 and stated: “We’re rooting for you”.
Emilie Moatti, an Israeli Labour Knesset member, celebrated Labour’s record in government in “honouring the principles of solidarity and internationalism, fighting racism and antisemitism at home and supporting the world’s sole Jewish state overseas”.
She also urged Labour members to “stand with Israeli progressives” and “stand up for peace, two states and a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians alike”.
Kfar Saba-raised Ms Moatti explained: “Over the past 15 months, Labour in government in Israel has fought to defend the liberal, democratic values which Benjamin Netanyahu sought to undermine but from which we will never resile; promoted greater rights for women, the LGBT+ community and people with disabilities; and backed record investment in Israeli-Arab towns and villages across Israel.
“But we know, too, that Israel’s character as a Jewish state and a democratic state rests on two states for two peoples with Israel safe, secure and recognised within its borders; living alongside a viable, vdemocratic and independent Palestinian state.
“I believe that every day that passes without a border between Israel and a Palestinian state is a day that deepens the threat to Israel’s future.
“Netanyahu’s policy of delay, drift and deferral over the past decade has made the tragic conflict between Israel and the Palestinians more difficult to resolve.
“I want to see us taking the initiative to lay a path towards a negotiated agreement.
“Israel should place more territory in the West Bank under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority.
“We should prevent the creation of all new illegal settler outposts, and we should implement an evacuation and compensation plan for Jewish settlers living outside of the major settlement blocs which abut the Green Line.”
LFI chairman Steve McCabe said that the only credible approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a balanced one.
He also launched an LFI publication, Steps to a Two State Solution, which, he explained will “set out an agenda to narrow the parameters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians and Israelis, and help foster the conditions in which a final agreement can be reached”.
“It will, I hope, provide the framework for the approach our party will take in government,” the MP for Birmingham Selly Oak added.
He also praised Sir Keir’s leadership and determination to make Labour once again a welcoming home to the Jewish community.
Mr McCabe continued: “He has restored the values — of equality, tolerance and anti-racism — which rest at the very centre of our party’s moral core.
“And he has made all of us proud to be Labour Party members once again.”
Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy talked about his long-standing support for LFI in his 22 years in Parliament, as well as welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s commitment to a two-state solution at the UN General Assembly last week.
He said: “The country of Israel was founded by Ben Gurion and by the Labour Party — it was birthed by Labour. And it was birthed against a backdrop of hope.
“We hold out that hope — and it was a hope I was so pleased to see repeated by Prime Minister Lapid at the UN last week — the hope and the belief for a two-state solution, Israel safe and secure and a sovereign, viable Palestinian state.
“We also recognise the progress that’s been made with the Abraham Accords, the coming together that we’ve seen across the Middle East, and the real challenges that exist in the area.
“The challenges in Lebanon, in Syria and real challenges in Iran.
“But again, just in the last few hours, to see people coming out on the streets in Iran, is hope. And it’s hope that keeps progressives alive.”
“It’s a huge honour to say that I am a Labour friend of Israel.”
Oren Marmorstein, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UK, said he felt he was once again among “friends” at a Labour Party event, while warning about the danger posed not just to Israel, but to the world by the Iranian regime.
Shadow Chancellor — and LFI vice-chairman Rachel Reeves — told guests: “I am proud to be here with all of you who have stood here through the difficult years and the good years”, while Bury South MP Christian Wakeford told of his pride to speak at an LFI event.
The long-time supporter of Israel crossed the floor from the Conservative Party earlier this year.
He said: “I could not be prouder to be finishing my last speech of this conference here with Labour Friends of Israel.”
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