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UK Labour members approve motion accusing Israel of ‘ongoing Nakba in Palestine’

Opposition party leader Keir Starmer said set to condemn resolution okayed at annual conference that notes ‘unequivocal’ reports claiming Israel heading toward ‘crime of apartheid’

Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (C) talks to members of the press in the media centre on the third day of the annual Labour Party conference at The Brighton Centre in Brighton on the south coast of England, on September 27, 2021. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (C) talks to members of the press in the media centre on the third day of the annual Labour Party conference at The Brighton Centre in Brighton on the south coast of England, on September 27, 2021. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Delegates in the British Labour Party on Monday passed a resolution condemning Israel for allegedly perpetrating an “ongoing Nakba in Palestine,” drawing outcry from some party officials.

“Conference condemns the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarised violence attacking the Al Aqsa mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza,” the motion passed at the main opposition party’s annual conference read.

“Nakba,” which means “catastrophe” in Arabic, is used by Palestinians to denote Israel’s establishment in 1948.

The motion brought by Young Labour passed at Monday’s conference with about twice as many votes for as against, according to the Jewish News website.

It added that “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.”

The delegates recognized “unequivocal” reports by the Israeli left-wing NGO B’Tselem and the New York-based Human Rights Watch that branded Israel as an “apartheid” state.

The motion also noted a Trades Union Congress in 2020 that described Israel’s West Bank policies, including settlement building and what it charged was annexation, as “another significant step towards the UN Crime of Apartheid.”

Ahead of the vote, Steve McCabe, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said that the motion was “too one-sided and not at all focused on the search for peace.” He said that it was “completely hostile to the people of Israel,” according to The Guardian.

After the vote passed, McCabe said that “it does not represent Labour’s longstanding policy in support of a two-state solution, backs the toxic BDS movement which singles out the world’s only Jewish state, and propagates the apartheid smear.”

Illustrative: Delegates hold up Palestinian flags during a debate on the third day of the Labour party conference in Liverpool, northwest England on September 25, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF)

The party’s leader Keir Starmer, as well as its shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy, were reportedly ready to distance themselves from the resolution, according to Jewish News.

Palestinian Authority official Husam Zomlot praised the motion in a Facebook post on Monday.

Jeremy Corbyn (left) sits waiting to speak next to Keir Starmer during their election campaign event on Brexit in Harlow, England, on November 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

“This is a victory for our martyrs, our prisoners and our wounded, the struggle of our great people, and a victory for international values ​​and morals, the PLO’s ambassador to the United Kingdom and a former envoy in Washington said.

Starmer, who was elected leader in April 2020, has vowed to root out antisemitism in Labour that opponents alleged went unchecked and flourished under the previous head Jeremy Corbyn, and saw Jewish members and lawmakers leave in droves.

Starmer ousted Corbyn as a Labour MP after he refused to accept the findings of a report by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission that said Labour, under Corbyn, had broken the law in its “inexcusable” handling of antisemitism complaints.

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