Labour says it will work for a Palestinian state amid backlash over Gaza stance

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy says party would work with partners including Gulf states

UK shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has said young Palestinians face adulthood under 'permanent occupation'. PA
Powered by automated translation

The Labour Party will work towards recognising a sovereign Palestinian state, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has said, as the party’s leadership faces a backlash over its stance over the Israel-Gaza war.

Leader Keir Starmer has so far ignored demands for some members of his party to call for a ceasefire after an interview in which he appeared to suggest Israel had the right to cut off water and power to Gaza.

That led to the resignation of some Labour councillors and claims the party’s leadership was trying to stifle debate, as Mr Starmer sought to clarify his comments.

Writing in The Observer newspaper, Mr Lammy now said that if elected, his party would work towards a two-state solution as a way of resolving tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

He said that was part of the UK’s “historical responsibility”.

A Labour government would appoint a Middle East peace envoy and work with partners in the region, including the Gulf, he said.

It comes as the shadow defence secretary John Healey said there was a danger of Israel “going too far” and said it “must meet its obligations under international law".

Mr Lammy described his visit to the occupied West Bank last year, when he came “face to face with a generation in despair”.

“I met young, peaceful Palestinians, totally opposed to Hamas terrorists, who were as impressive as they were eloquent. But their lives told a bitter story of diplomatic failure," he said.

The shadow foreign secretary said these Palestinians were “now facing adulthood under a seemingly permanent occupation, with vanishing economic prospects and ever-encroaching settlements”.

Mr Lammy said he met also met Mohammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, who told him the international community, including the UK, seemed to have abandoned serious efforts towards securing a lasting peace settlement.

“With this in mind, I promised that if Labour wins power, we will strive to recognise Palestine as a sovereign state, as part of efforts to contribute to securing a negotiated two-state solution," Mr Lammy said.

He accused the UK's current Conservative government of being “dangerously irresponsible” for not pursuing a two-state solution.

“We reject the alternative to a peaceful settlement that is playing out on our TV screens and will pursue two states: a sovereign Palestine and a secure Israel,” he said.

“This means working with not only the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, but our partners in the Gulf, Jordan and Egypt.”

Mr Lammy also called for an “immediate humanitarian pause” in the fighting to allow aid to enter Gaza, but stopped short of the demands by some in his party for a full ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Mr Healey was asked on the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme if there was a danger of Israel going too far in its war on Gaza.

“There is a danger of Israel going too far and more steps need to be taken to protect innocent lives, but it's also important to remember the unique complexity and difficulty that Israel has in trying to take out Hamas who hide its fighters, its weapons, its command centres, its ammunition stores, among and beneath civilians,” Mr Healey said.

"But the right to self-defence is not a blank cheque as Keir Starmer argued this week and Israel must meet its obligations under international law."

Updated: November 05, 2023, 1:37 PM