UK Labour says Israel has “right” to starve Gaza children

A mean speaking into a microphone

Labour leader Keir Starmer endorsed Israel’s decision to deprive 2.3 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza of food, water and electricity while bombarding them.


As Britain this week announced that its military could actively participate in Israel’s genocidal war against the Gaza Strip, the main opposition party also loudly advertised its complicity in the starvation of 2.3 million people.

“Israel does have that right,” said Labour leader Keir Starmer when asked by LBC Radio if he thinks “siege is appropriate? Cutting off power, cutting off water?”

He repeated the false Israeli talking point pushed by most Western governments that “Israel has a right to defend herself.”

The rest of Labour’s leadership have also expressed their full support for Israel’s genocide.

On the BBC’s Newsnight program, Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry repeatedly refused to answer when asked if the “cutting off [of] food, water and electricity is within international law.”

She instead waffled about Israel’s purported “right to defend itself,” and tried as hard as possible to change the subject.

Meanwhile, Labour’s general secretary David Evans sent an email on Saturday morning issuing “strong advice” against lawmakers and other party officials attending Palestine solidarity demonstrations this weekend in “the interests of our members’ safety,” he claimed.

“In the event that individual members are in attendance at these protests and demonstrations, I ask that no Labour Party banners are taken along,” he added.

He also issued instructions to party officials to prevent local branches from discussing or passing declarations in support of Palestine: “The party’s leadership has been clear that Labour fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Evans said he was also banning “attempts to table motions at meetings that are prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party.”

You can find the full email at the bottom of this article.

This is far from the first time Labour has prevented debates on Palestine by party members.

In 2021, party officials Kim Bolton and Scott Horner claimed that debating sanctions on Israel would encourage “anti-Semitism.” Labour then even tried – and failed – to censor The Electronic Intifada’s reporting on the issue.

All this censorship came largely at the behest of Israeli embassy linked lobby group the Jewish Labour Movement.

Labour’s internal pro-Israel lobby has of course shown enthusiastic support for the festival of Israeli bloodletting in Gaza.

Israeli embassy front group Labour Friends of Israel posted this week thanking Starmer after his “support for the Jewish community and for Israel.”

But for all that, never in recent years has the party openly endorsed genocide in the manner that the current leadership is doing.

If Labour wins the next general election – as it is predicted to do – then Starmer will be prime minister and Thornberry will likely be a senior government minister.

Both have extensive ties to the Israel lobby.

Calling herself a “Zionist,” Thornberry has bitterly opposed nonviolent protest for Palestinian rights such as boycott, divestment and sanctions. In a 2017 speech to a Labour Friends of Israel dinner, she even enthusiastically promoted the colonial Israeli myth that there was no civilization in Palestine before Israeli “pioneers” arrived and supposedly “made the deserts bloom.”

Starmer’s 2020 party leadership campaign was secretly funded by wealthy British pro-Israel lobbyist Trevor Chinn to the tune of $62,000.

In June it emerged that a second wealthy pro-Israel lobbyist – South African business owner Gary Lubner – was set to become Labour’s leading fundraiser, personally planning to donate as much as $6 million to the party before the election expected next year.

During the apartheid era, Lubner and his firm were direct profiteers from the white supremacist, Israel-allied regime which oppressed the majority Black population at the time.


While Labour’s leaders granted Israel a blank check to unleash violence against Gaza’s population, their “friends” in Israel were crystal clear that the military operation was not aimed at Hamas or other Palestinian resistance factions, but rather sought to eliminate and expel the civilian population.

Reserve Brigadier General Amir Avivi, a former commander of Israel’s Gaza division – the same army unit that completely collapsed in the face of the armed Palestinian offensive that started on 7 Octobertold the BBC’s Newsnight this week that 2.3 million Palestinians must now “move south into the Sinai Peninsula,” the Egyptian desert region.

Mark Urban, the apparently shocked BBC interviewer, responded that what Avivi was calling for “sounds like another 1948. A catastrophe for the Palestinians.”

Avivi replied: “What are the choices? We are going to conquer Gaza.”

Meanwhile Israel’s supposedly “liberal” president Isaac Herzog this week threatened to use an “iron fist” in the campaign against Gaza. He said the “entire nation” of Palestinians was responsible for what he claimed was terrorism.

“This rhetoric about civilians were not aware, not involved” said Herzog, “it’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up,” he said.

“We are at war,” he added. “We will fight until we break their backbone,” apparently referring to Palestinians in general.

Former leader of Israel’s supposedly socialist Labor Party, Herzog has a long history of violence and racism against Palestinians, other Arabs and even against some Jews.

The Jewish Labour Movement warmly welcomed Herzog to the presidency in 2021.

Starmer’s comments were condemned by the Labour Muslim Network, which described Israel’s plans as a “war crime.” The group demanded Starmer retract his comments and apologize.

Several low-level Labour officials resigned from their positions in protest.

Lubaba Khalid, a Palestinian with family in Gaza, quit her position in Labour’s official youth wing, saying she was “absolutely appalled” by Starmer and Thornberry’s comments.

Two elected councilors in Oxford also quit the party.

Francesca Albanese, the UN’s special rapporteur for the occupied West Bank and Gaza, condemned Starmer for what she said was “support for the commission of a war crime and, potentially, a crime against humanity.”

The backlash appears to have annoyed Starmer.

Journalist Taj Ali reported that “Starmer’s team put pressure on a journalist to change a headline” about his endorsement of war crimes.

A post to Twitter by an LBC presenter was also deleted.

The Labour Party have repeatedly ignored requests for comment by The Electronic Intifada since Starmer came to power in 2020.

Meanwhile, at Saturday’s massive solidarity demonstration for Palestine in London, protesters repeatedly denounced Starmer.


Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).