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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UK's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry's support for the State of Palestine

She said the 'unfinished business' of the Balfour Declaration needs to be addressed

Emily Thornberry said the next Labour government will support the Arab Peace Initiative and the efforts of all those in Israel, Palestine and the Arab to end the 70 year conflict. Labour Friends of Israel
Emily Thornberry said the next Labour government will support the Arab Peace Initiative and the efforts of all those in Israel, Palestine and the Arab to end the 70 year conflict. Labour Friends of Israel

The UK’s shadow foreign secretary has reaffirmed Labour’s intention to recognise the State of Palestine as part of a new commitment to fulfilling longstanding promises to the region.

Emily Thornberry outlined what was needed to complete what she described as “the ‘unfinished business’ of Balfour’s Declaration and [to] protect the rights of “non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

“That commitment will remain unfulfilled for as long as the Israeli Government continues its occupation of the West Bank, for as long as it continues to back the expansion of settlements, for as long as the people of Gaza face a dire humanitarian crisis, and for as long as the Palestinian people are denied a state of their own,” she said in a landmark Middle East policy speec.

“The next Labour government will make clear to the Israeli government that it must cease settlement-building. We will work for a solution to the tragic plight of Gaza – one that seeks both to end the blockade, while also protecting the people of Israel from Hamas rocket attacks,” she said.

Mrs Thornberry went on to confirm her party “will recognise the State of Palestine, because it is in the interests of Israel, the Palestinians and peace”.

The former lawyer added that the next Labour government will support the Arab Peace Initiative and the efforts of all those in Israel, Palestine and the Arab to end the 70 year conflict.

The opposition politician travelled to Israel and Palestine earlier this month.

In what was largely a balanced speech, Mrs Thornberry also recognised that anti-semitic feeling is on the rise across Europe, noting that synagogues and Jewish primary schools in Britain are required to place security guards outside.

Mrs Thornberry’s own party, and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, have been accused of being anti-semitic.

In response to that, she said: “There can be no place in our party for anyone who holds anti-semitic views or who denies the right of Israel to exist, and any people who hold those views must and will be drummed out of our party.”.

Mrs Thornberry described herself as having “profound differences with the current government of Israel.”.

She said the next Labour government will work to boost Palestinian-run ventures in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as use the international aid budget to support the economic development of Palestine.