The Labour Party yesterday passed a motion to ban UK arms sales to Israel over its persecution of Palestinians. With a number of polls putting Labour ahead of the Conservatives, the motion clears the way for party leader Jeremy Corbyn to turn this decision into official government policy if and when the party is elected to lead the country.
The motion was greeted with roaring support for Palestine with delegates transforming the Labour Party conference floor in Liverpool in to a sea of Palestinian flags. The vote marked a historic moment in British politics as it was the first time that a major political party endorsed a ban on weapons sales to Israel.
Details of the motion noted Israel’s past and present assault against the Palestinian people. “The majority of Palestinian people were forcibly displaced from their homes” during the Nakba, the motion said.
Accusing Israel of an “aggressive attempt to rewrite history and erase the victims of the 1948 war”, the motion called for an “independent international investigation into Israel’s use of force against Palestinian demonstrators” killed during the Land Day march; an “immediate and unconditional end to the illegal blockade and closure of Gaza,” and “a freeze of UK Government arms sales to Israel.”
The motion noted that amongst those killed during the Palestinian protests of recent months are paramedics, journalists, women and children, while more than half of the injured were hit with live fire by snipers.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Chair Hugh Lanning said: “We have witnessed extraordinary scenes of solidarity today and the Labour Party has done the right thing by recognising the longstanding injustice of Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.”
In remarkable scenes, many hundreds of delegates stood and waved Palestinian flags inside the conference hall when the motion was debated and chants of “Free Palestine” were clearly heard.
PSC Director Ben Jamal said: “This incredible show of support and this historic motion demonstrate the strength of feeling at the grassroots of the party. Labour members want to show real solidarity with Palestinians.”
Palestine was high on the conference agenda; fourth in the agenda items after housing, school systems, and justice for the Windrush generation. The motion to ban arms to Israel is reported to have gained more votes than key issues like Brexit and the National Health System (NHS).