LIVERPOOL, UK - Labour delegates have voted for a debate on Palestine at the party’s annual conference, the first for many years, which will include a motion for a UK arms embargo against Israel.
A debate on Palestine was backed on Sunday by 188,000 votes from local party members, putting it in the top four issues to be discussed by the party’s conference in Liverpool.
Constituency parties put Palestine ahead of Brexit and the NHS in their choice of issues to be discussed by conference in Liverpool.
“Ordinary members of the party want Labour to stand up for Palestinian rights. And today for the first time in many years a Palestine motion is on the agenda of conference," said Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal, who was speaking outside of the conference.
The vote means Palestine will be debated on the floor of conference on Tuesday, including a motion that says UK arms sales to Israel should be suspended until it carries out an independent investigation into the killing of more than 180 protesters in Gaza since 30 March, Jamal told Middle East Eye.
Conference votes are not binding on the leadership, however Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause, and has committed the party to recognising the state of Palestine if Labour comes to power.
Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby was cheered on Sunday when she said that, in the context of the anti-Semitism debate that has surrounded the party all summer: “We must not allow the voices of Palestinians to be silenced and members must be able to speak out about the terrible injustices they face.”
She added, however, that freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to be anti-Semitic.
A new Labour and Palestine parliamentary group is also being launched at the conference, with support from MPs.