Labour debates support for 'arms embargo' on Israel

Britain's Labour Party debates support for 'arms embargo' on Israel
2 min read
25 September, 2018
As the proposal was put forward, hundreds of delegates stood and waved Palestinian flags inside the conference hall in Liverpool, chanting 'Free Palestine!'
The Labour Party conference hall turned into a sea of Palestinian flags [Craig Jevon Smith]
The British Labour Party conference is debating a motion to support an embargo on arms sales to Israel, a first in the country's history.

As the proposal was put forward, hundreds of pro-Palestinian Labour delegates stood and waved their flags inside the conference hall in Liverpool, chanting "Free Palestine!" and turning the hall into a sea of Palestinian flags.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which has been a key force behind the proposal, says the motion is "very likely to pass".

"This incredible show of support and this historic motion demonstrate the strength of feeling at the grassroots of the party," said PSC director Ben Jamal.

"Labour members want to show real solidarity with Palestinians... Given Israel's continuing use of live fire to kill unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, it is no surprise that there's clear support for an immediate freeze of arms sales to Israel," he added.

The motion - moved by Harlow Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and seconded by Wolverhampton South West CLP - is the first on Palestine to be heard at the party's conference in many years.

Palestine was put forward as the fourth-most important issue by CLPs in the priorities ballot, after housing, the schools system and "justice for the Windrush generation" - and above Brexit, the NHS, climate change and social care.

The motion comes amid ongoing protests along Gaza's border with Israel dubbed the Great Return Marches.

Read more: Anti-Semitism and UK Labour: What now for Palestine solidarity?

Despite the largely peaceful nature of the protests, Israeli snipers have killed more than 170 Palestinians since they began on 30 March, with more than 17,500 injured.

More than 68 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces have required amputations of either lower or upper limbs since the protests began.

Palestinians have been calling to return to the homes their families were forced from in 1948, during the military campaign surrounding the creation of Israel.

They are also calling for an end to the decade-long Israel-Egypt blockade that the UN says will make Gaza "unlivable" by 2020. 

Tuesday's motion at the Labour Party conference called for an "independent international investigation into Israel's use of force against Palestinian demonstrators", an "immediate and unconditional end to the illegal blockade and closure of Gaza" and "a freeze of UK government arms sales to Israel".

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