Labour should not have voted to recognise Palestine, says leadership candidate Liz Kendall

The candidate said a 'responsible opposition' would not have backed Palestine

Jon Stone
Tuesday 21 July 2015 16:35 BST
Liz Kendall
Liz Kendall (PA)

Labour should not have voted for Britain to recognise the Palestinian state, a candidate for the leadership of the party has said.

Liz Kendall argued that recognising Palestine was not the “right thing to do” and argued that a “responsible opposition” would not have done it.

“The question asked about hostility [between Labour and the Jewish community] and I think that really did come to a crunch in the vote on the House of Commons on recognizing the Palestinian state,” she told a hustings event hosted by the Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

“I don’t think it was a three-line whip, I’ve never broken a three-line whip, but I did abstain because I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.

“The way we achieve peace is through a two-state solution and negotiation, not through passing resolutions in the House of Commons or the United Nations.

“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.”

Labour leadership hopefuls, from left, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC
Labour leadership hopefuls, from left, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC (PA)

In 2014 Labour supported a successful motion, also backed by MPs of other parties, for Britain to recognise the Palestinian state. The motion was largely symbolic and does not change Government policy.

Ms Kendall said she had come under a lot of pressure from her own constituents to back the vote but had not done as they asked.

Ms Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper all also told the hustings even in London that they opposed the boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Jeremy Corbyn said he was not in favour of a generalised boycott of Israel but that he supported an arms embargo on the country and a boycott of products from the occupied territories.

Ms Kendall said she would fight boycotts with “every fibre of [her] being”.

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.

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”.

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