Motion To Back Sanctions Against Israel Passed In Labour Conference

The Labour Party conference of 2021 witnessed a historical event when the delegates passed a motion condemning the ongoing Nakba in Palestine. The largest political party of the UK further recognized Israel as an apartheid state and resolved to “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 settlements”.

The motion condemned the recent attacks on the Al Aqsa mosque and Israel’s assault in Gaza which resulted in the death of 67 children in May.

Put forth by the Young Labour party, the resolution highlighted Israel’s de facto annexation of Palestinian land by illegal settlements as another activity that fits the UN’s definition of apartheid. It also held that the unequivocal reports of 2021 by the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch were evidence of the state’s practice of apartheid in Palestine.

The resolution also urged European and International trade union movements to join the campaign to ensure an end to the Israeli government’s illegal actions under international law. It called for urgent action due to Israel’s continuous illegal activities in the occupied state of Palestine and also endorsed “effective measure” of sanction as “called for by Palestinian civil society”.

Moving the motion, Jawad Khan of the Young Labour party said, “The motion before you today will not only send our uncompromising solidarity with the Palestinian people by calling for sanctions against the state that is practising war crimes, it will bring us one step closer to finally ending the shameful century of British complicity and the denial of the right to self-determination, liberation, and return.”

The motion was welcomed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS) who released a statement stating, “ The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) warmly welcomes this effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality which is particularly inspiring at a time of heightened anti-Palestinian racism, repression and McCarthyism in the UK, including in the Labour Party”.

Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Kamel Hawwash said, “We welcome this important and historic motion which represents a significant step for the Labour party in acknowledging the reality of the system of apartheid imposed by Israel on Palestinians.”

“Despite huge pressure imposed on Labour to reverse policy commitments made at Conference in 2018 and 2019, this demonstrates the strength of solidarity with the Palestinian people amongst Labour’s grassroots members and within the trade union movement. It is time impunity ended and accountability started”, he added.

Labour MP and chair of Labour Friends of Israel, Steve McCabe, said that the resolution was “completely unacceptable, grossly inaccurate and morally repugnant…backs the toxic BDS movement which singles out the world’s only Jewish state, and propagates the apartheid smear”.

The Board of Deputies of Jews supported McCabe in his opposition to the resolution.

The motion was passed without a need for a card vote with the majority of delegates voting for the motion with a show of hand.

Skwawkbox reported that the Palestine motion was not fully broadcasted as the debate that focused on Israeli crimes and apartheid against Palestinians was cut off. The broadcast was later resumed. 

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