Labour Friends of Israel invites Jeremy Corbyn to explain his Palestine policy to them

The Labour leader has been invited to address the group at conference

Jon Stone
Tuesday 22 September 2015 12:21
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Jeremy Corbyn at an anti-war protest to mark the eleventh anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, in Oct 2012
Jeremy Corbyn at an anti-war protest to mark the eleventh anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, in Oct 2012

Jeremy Corbyn has been invited to address a meeting of the Labour party’s pro-Israel internal group to address its concerns over his views on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Labour Friends of Israel says it has invited Mr Corbyn to attend a gathering at the party’s conference in Brighton.

Mr Corbyn’s strong and vocal support for the Palestine liberation movement have previously put him at odds with some supporters of Israel, including within his own party.

Joan Ryan, the Labour MP who chairs the group, told the Jewish Chronicle newspaper that she had written to Mr Corbyn to invite him.

“It’s the start of a process. What I will do over the coming weeks and months is have open dialogue with the party’s new leadership,” she said.

“The invite is the beginning of that process. It’s not a one-off – I’ve also asked for a meeting with him.”

Under former leader Ed Miliband Labour voted on a whip to recognise Palestinian statehood, a move Mr Corbyn supported.

Mr Corbyn could go further and has previously supported a programme of boycotts, divestment, and peaceful sanctions against Israel to bring it to the negotiating table.

At the same event the now Labour leader said he was not in favour of a generalised boycott of Israel but supported an arms embargo on the country.

He also says he supports boycotts of products produced by Israeli businesses in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Former leadership candidate Liz Kendall however said Labour should never have voted to recognise Palestine.

“I don’t believe we would have done that had we been in Government and I believe a responsible opposition that seeks to become the Government should behave in the same way – particularly over such an important issue as this,” she told a hustings hosted by the same newspaper.

As of last year 135 of the 193 member states of the United Nations recognised Palestine.

Israel does not recognise its neighbour and currently illegally occupies the territory. Critics of recognition argue it would make a two-state solution to the conflict more difficult.

In 2014, voting by 274 to 12, MPs across all parties urged the Government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” as part of a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

Labour was not available to comment on whether Mr Corbyn would attend the event at conference.

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