“International solidarity can play an important role in highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people. We must speak up for Palestine & fight for Labour to be on the right side of history.”
Matt Willgress explains why activists have produced a model motion in solidarity with Palestine for this year’s Labour Party Conference
On Wednesday July 26, Palestinian news sources widely reported that Israeli Forces had shot and killed a Palestinian child during a raid in the illegally occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The Ministry said that Fares Abu Samra, 14, was critically wounded by Israeli gunfire. He was then taken to the Qalqilya governmental hospital before he was pronounced dead. This occurred as Israeli forces raided the eastern part of the city, leading to confrontations with young Palestinians, during which it has been reported the soldiers fired live and rubber-coated steel bullets against protestors, as well as toxic gas bombs towards citizens’ and their houses.
With the killing of Abu Samra, the number of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces rose to 202 in 2023 alone, including 37 children and 11 women. Furthermore, this comes on top of 2022 being what Action Aid termed the ‘Deadliest year in Palestine since 2005, ’with nearly 40 children among over 230 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers in 2022.
As Amnesty International noted in February this year, there is an increasing violent reality in occupied Palestine with Amnesty arguing in particular that Palestinian lives are in peril due to the increasingly aggressive policies of the new Israeli Government. This includes Israeli authorities constantly demolishing Palestinian homes whilst settlements, considered illegal under international law, are aggressively expanded.
These tragic examples – and many more could be given – clearly show the nature of the continuing illegal occupation of Palestine and denial of the Palestinian people’s fundamental rights.
While standing with Palestine is supported by most Labour party members and affiliates, far too often the party leadership does not clearly speak up for the Palestinian people.
In 2021, after Labour passed strong policy in support of Palestine, party leader Keir Starmer and then shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy moved to renounce the motion almost as soon as it was passed. This was in direct contrast to the specific demand of the motion itself that “the Labour Party must stand on the right side of history and abide by these resolutions in its policy, communications and political strategy.”
Continuing such an approach from Labour’s front bench would be a disaster for the Palestinian people, even more so with the prospect of a Labour Government on the horizon.
To this end, a model motion has been produced for this year’s Labour Party Conference in solidarity with Palestine, which was also a topic of discussion at the recent National Policy Forum. The motion is copied below and has been drafted by Labour & Palestine, and is being circulated by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.
International solidarity can play an important role in highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people, including in terms of calling for an end to arms sales to Israel. We must speak up for Palestine and fight for Labour to be on the right side of history.
MODEL MOTION FOR LABOUR CONFERENCE 2023: JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE
Conference welcomes the Party’s commitment to the recognition of Palestine.
Conference recognises the increasingly violent reality facing Palestinians. This has been highlighted by the settler violence encouraged by the openly far-right elements in the Israeli Government and the renewed threat of the annexation of much of the West Bank, illegal under international law. This is an ongoing process aimed at eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination.
Conference believes that Palestine should be a core component of a new Labour Government’s ethical foreign policy, which should be based on the principle of the universal application of international law.
Conference believes that a future Labour Government should make clear to Israel that there will be consequences for ongoing breaches of international law including effective measures such as sanctions for breaches of international law, no arms trade, encouraging divestment from complicit firms and the boycott of goods and services that support and profit from the illegal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
To underpin this the Labour Party should support the investigations of the International Criminal court into alleged war crimes and commit to rescinding the Tory Government’s trade agreement with Israel which fails to provide for the existence of a Palestinian state.
- The closing date for motions for Labour Party Conference 2023 is 5pm on Thursday 21 September 2023. Motions must be 250 words or fewer, cover one subject only and not cover an organisational matter.
- You can follow Labour & Palestine on Facebook and Twitter.
- You can follow Arise on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; see what events they have coming up here; and listen to the Arise Festival podcast on Spotify.
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