Israel lobby claims “win” over Labour manifesto changes

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launching the party’s 2017 manifesto. (Labour Party)

A section about Palestine in the UK Labour Party’s new manifesto was significantly altered after intervention from the Israel lobby.

The main opposition party published a list of pledges this week ahead of a general election on 8 June.

A draft of the manifesto was leaked to the press last week.

Reference in the draft to “expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank” being “wrong and illegal” was removed from the final document.

A second line stating that Labour “cannot accept the continued humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” was also removed.

According to London newspaper The Times, the changes were made after Jeremy Newmark, chair of pro-Israel group the Jewish Labour Movement, complained about the draft being an “unbalanced, partisan” text.

The final document demanded both “an end to the [Israeli] blockade” of Gaza, its “occupation and settlements” and an “end to [Palestinian] rocket and terror attacks.” By doing so, it created a false equation between the violence of Israel, a highly militarized state, and the resistance tactics used by some Palestinian groups in response to Israeli oppression.

Palestinian state

But Labour’s commitment to recognizing a Palestinian state was also made more explicit in the final version.

The draft had only said a Labour government would “support Palestinian recognition at the UN.” The final version commits the party to “immediately recognize the state of Palestine” if it wins the election.

Labour Friends of Israel, a pressure group within the party, has described the changes as a “difficult win,” according to The Jewish Chronicle.

Jeremy Newmark did not reply to request for comment.

Newmark is a long-standing leader in the UK’s Israel lobby, and has a history of working closely with the Israeli government against the Palestine solidarity movement.

He is standing as Labour’s candidate for a north London seat in Parliament.

The final version of the manifesto’s section on Palestine seems to have been essentially reverted to the pledges Labour made before the 2015 general election. The two wordings are almost identical, apart from the references to Palestinian “terror attacks” and the “state of Palestine.”

The manifesto now says that “there can be no military solution to this conflict and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve.”

Radical?

The 2017 Labour manifesto has been hailed as radical and is proving to be popular with voters.

Although Labour is still trailing the ruling Conservative Party in opinion polls, its ratings have been surging after unvealing a series of policy proposals.

Supposedly “radical” Labour policies such as building 100,000 social-rent homes a year and slightly increasing tax for those with an annual salary exceeding £80,000 ($104,000) were once polical consensus, carried out by Labour and Conservative governments alike.

It is only because politics in the UK swung so far right under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives in the 1980s, and later under Tony Blair’s New Labour, that current leader Jeremy Corbyn’s modest social democratic program can be portrayed by a hostile media as a dangerous and “radical” document which would take the UK “back to the 1970s.”

But when it comes to Palestine, the manifesto seems to reflect long-failed conventional “wisdom.”

And it proposes no sanction that would hold Israel to account for its human rights violations against Palestinians. Even the draft version contained no such proposal.

When it comes to foreign policy, Corbyn’s “radicalism” remains very much constrained by the Labour Party’s right-wing, pro-Israel remnants.

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Comments

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Corbyn does not have the guts, no b*lls, to stand up to israel's surrogates, the zio-fascists, who have infiltrated the government & both main parties in the UK.

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To be fair, JC doesn't dictate what goes in the manifesto - it is a collaborative effort finalised at Commmitee level.

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Maybe so, but as party leader his voice has a lot more weight than any of the other committee members because he has to sell the message to the voters. Besides, he needn't have accepted such drastic changes.

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Have you actually been following Labour Party politics? Labour is still controlled by the Blairites despite the more progressive leanings of the membership. Corbyn does what he can. He does not have dictatorial control of the Labour Party.

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Sp how come Blair had dictatorial control? He was able to infest the party with his acolytes and henchmen/women, why can't Corbyn achieve that. My feeling is that Corbyn is a sincere guy with good intentions & ideas, but he is too nice to be a party leader, particularly a party that needs flushed clean of Blairites, what with Blair preparing for a re-entry into politics probably with the intention to take over the Labour party again. What is needed is a strong personality who is truly socialist.

That brings me back to the topic here. Labour also needs to be flushed clean of those Labour Friends of israel who are on a par with the zio-fascists in israel & elsewhere, and who block any criticism of the country, as the Al Jazeera report exposed. Blaire turned Labour into into an alternative Conservative party, with LFI & CFI having the exact same mentality vis-a-vis israel & the Palestinians. Corbyn is unable to clean that up.

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The way to remove sitting MPs is de-selection or resignation. The fewer MPs you start off with the easier it is to shape the party in your own image. Blair parachuted in candidates from whom local selection committees chose a candidate. At the time this was denounced by the left as anti-democratic, so not easy to replicate without raising charges of hypocrisy.

With our first past the post system, local selection committees (rather than the local party) tend to choose the candidate they think will serve them best, not always a person who will follow the Corbyn line. There's also some stitching up by trade union sponsorship of most Labour candidates. Not all of them are like McClusky.

These are two reasons why there are still so many Blairites in the parliamentary labour party, and likely to be for some time. It also accounts for why none of the Blairites have not resigned from the party.

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The pledge to build 100,000 social-rent homes a year - has nothing to do with housing the population & everything to do with Property Investment Markets - & wealth creation - if things go to plan the 'social-rent homes' will be built with government money then privatized / shunted into PRIVATE Investment Portfolio's of the power broker - movers & shakers.

* who will own the housing ?
* not the people / never the people.
* it is called utilizing Other Peoples Money / OPM.
Property investment is all the rage in today's financial casino.
Spain has umpteen new rental properties - all empty.

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I'm still voting Labour but this an unsurprising compromise. I don't think it's possible to be critical of the current Knesset's policies and lead Britain. I pin thus to LFI, and Iain Mcnicol. It's upsetting but I'd not expect Labour to strongly remremand Israel.

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Paranam Kid is right. Corbyn is leader and he had the major say on this manifesto. For someone who has spent 35 years in the Palestine solidarity movement to capitulate like this and not to be able, even to call out settlement expansion is outrageous by any stretch of the imagination.

In equating the non-existent rocket attacks with the continuing siege of Gaza is both indefensible and despicable but I would blame the utterly useless leadership of Britain's Palestine Solidarity Campaign for much of this.

Corbyn was not only a patron of PSC he attended every PSC AGM for as long as I remember. Instead of doing what Stop the War Committee did and holding Corbyn to account the Socialist Action leadership of Britain's PSC decided to say nothing, see nothing and do nothing as the false anti-Semitism campaign was mounted. Both Newmark and Mike Katz, the Vice Chair of the Zionist Labour Movement are Labour parliamentary candidates in the current election. Fortunately in unwinnable seats.

As for support for a Palestinian state that is worse than useless. Today that is a demand for the retrenchment of apartheid.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.